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Early Western Travels 

1 748- 1 846 

Volume IV 

Sketches of a Tour to the 
Western Country 

Through the States of Ohio and Kentucky ; i 

Voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers 

and a Trip through the Mississippi Territory 

and part of West Florida. Commenced 

at Philadelphia in the Winter of 

1807, and concluded in 1809 

By Fortescue Cuming 

Edited with Noics, Inirodu^ions. Index, etc., by 

Reuben Gold Thwaites 

or of "The J«uii Relatione »nd Allied Documents," "Wiiconiir 
HiMOricaJ Colleftion)." "Chronicles of Border Warfare, " 
"Hennepin's New Diicovcry," etc. 

(Sepiinite publication from "Early Western Travels: 174.8-1846," 
in which series this appeared as Volume IV) 

Cleveland, Ohio 

The Arthur H. Clark Company 



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Pkeface. TheEdiior 7 

OF A Tour to the Western Country, through the 
States of Ohio and Kentucky; a Voyage down the Ohio and 
Mississippi Rivers, and a Trip through the Mississippi Ter- 
ritory, and part of West Florida. Commenced at Philadel- 
phia in the Winter of 1807, and concluded in 1809. Fortes^ 
cue Cuming, 

Copyright notice 18 

Author's Table of Contents 19 

Author's Preface 23 

Text 25 


FACSDorB or Obkunal Title-page 17 


We devote the fourth volume of our series of Western 
Travels to the reprint of Fortescue Cuming's Sketches of a 
Tour to the Western Country — the tour having been made 
in 1807-1809, the publication itself issuing from a Pitts- 
burg press in 1810. 

Of Cuming himself, we have no information save such as 
is gleaned from his book. He appears to have been an 
Englishman of culture and refiBement, who had travelled 
extensively in other lands — notably the West Indies, 
France, Switzerland, and Italy. It is certain that he jour- 
neyed to good purpose, with an intelligent, open mind, free 
from local prejudices, and with trained habits of observa- 
tion. Cuming was what one may call a good traveller — 
he endured the inconveniences, annoyances, and vicissi- 
tudes of the road, especially in a new and rough country, 
with equanimity and philosophic patience, deliberately 
making the best of each day's h3.ppenings, thus proving 
himself an experienced and agreeable man of the world. 

The journeys narrated were taken during two succeeding 
years. The first, in January, 1807, was a pedestrian tour 
from Philadelphia to Pittsbui^. Arriving in the latter city 
on the second of February, after twenty-seven days upon 
the road, the remainder of the winter, the spring, and the 
early summer were passed at Pittsburg. On the eighteenth 
of July following, our traveller took boat from Pittsburg, 
and made his way down the Ohio to the Kentucky entrepSt 
at Maysville — where he arrived the thirtieth of the month. 
Mounting a horse, he made a brief trip through Kentucky 
as far as Lexington and Frankfort, returning to Maysville 

Early Western Travels 


on the fifth of August. The following day, he crossed the 
Ohio, and after examining lands in the vicinity, proceeded 
partly on foot, partly by stage and saddle, over the newly- 
opened state road of Ohio, through Chillicothe, Lancaster, 
and Zanesville to Wheeling; thence back to Pittsburg, 
where he arrived the evening of August 21. 

The following year (1808), Cuming begins his narrative 
at the point on the Ohio where he had left the river the 
previous year — at Maysville, whence he embarked on the 
seventh of May for Mississippi Territory. With the same 
fulness of detail and accurate notation that characterize 
his former narrative, Cuming describes the voyage down 
the Ohio and the Mississippi until his arrival at Bayou 
Pierre on the sixth of June, after a month afloat. 

Starting from Bruinsbury, at the mouth of Bayou Pierre, 
August 22, he took a horseback trip through the settle- 
ments of Mississippi Territory lying along the river and 
some distance inland on its tributaries — Cole's Creek, St. 
Catharine's Bayou, the Homochito, etc. — penetrating the 
then Spanish territory of West Florida as far as Baton 
Rouge, and returning by a similar route to Bruinsbury, 
where he arrived the fifteenth of September. 

At this point Cuming's tour is concluded. In order to 
give completeness to the work, however, the first editor 
added the journal of a voyage taken in 1 799 " by a gentle- 
man of accurate observation, a passenger in a New Orleans 
boat." From just above Bayou Pierre, this anonymous 
author departed on the ninth of February for New Orleans, 
where he arrived on the twenty-third of the same month. 
Embarking therefrom March 12, he reached PhUadelphia 
after a month's voyage via Havana and the Atlantic shore. 
His narrative is far less effective than that of Cuming. 

Like a well-bred man of affairs, Cuming never intrudes 
his private business upon our attention; but incidentally we 



leam that his first Western journey from Pittsburg was un- 
dertaken at least in part to observe some lands in Ohio, 
which he had previously purchased in Europe, and with 
whose situation and location he was agreeably surprised. 
The journey to Mississippi appears to have been under- 
taken with a view to making his home in that territory. 
The place and date signed to the preface — ' ' Mississippi 
territory, 20th Oct. 1809" — would indicate that he had 
decided upon remaining where he had found the social 
life so much to his taste, and some of his former friends and 
acquaintances had settled. 

It is the natural impulse of almost every traveller to 
record the events of a somewhat unusual tour. Cuming 
wished, also, to aflford information to Europeans and East- 
em men of " a country, in its infancy, which from its rapid 
improvement in a very few years, will form a wonderful 
contrast to its present state." His attitude was sympa- 
thetic towards the new and raw regions through which he 
travelled; nevertheless this fact does not appear to have 
unduly affected his purpose of giving an accurate picture 
of what he saw. He does not slur over the disadvantages, 
nor extenuate any of the crudeness or vulgarity; but at the 
same time portrays the possibihties of the new land, its 
remarkable growth, its opportunities for development, and 
the vigor and enterprise of its inhabitants. 

In plain, dispassionate style, he has given us a picture of 
American life in the West, at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, that for clear-cut outlines and fidelity of presenta- 
tion has the effect of a series of photographic representa- 
tions. In this consists the value of the book for students of 
American history. We miss entirely those evidences of 
amused tolerance and superficial criticism that character- 
ize so many English books of his day, recounting travels 
in the United States — a state of mind sometimes developing 

Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

into strong prejudice and evident distaste, such as made 
Dickens's American Notes a caricature of conditions in the 
new country. 

It is essentially a backwoods life to which Cuming intro- 
duces us, although not in the first stages of its struggle for 
existence. Indian alarms are a thing of the past, a large 
percentage of the land is cleared, the people have better 
dwellings than in the log-cabin days, there is now rude 
abundance and plenty, and the beginnings of educational 
opportunities, social intercourse, and the amenities of 
civilized life. The pioneers themselves — Indian fighters 
and skilful hunters — have become rare. Here and there 
Cuming encounters a former Indian captive, like Andrew 
Ellison, or a scout and ranger, like Peter Neiswonger; but 
as a rule it is the second generation whom he meets, or 
members of the second tide of emigrants that came in after 
the Revolution — officers in the army, younger sons of the 
better classes, who by energy and capacity bettered their 
fortunes in the West, built for themselves good homes, laid 
out towns, developed orchards, farms, and plantations, and 
were living in that atmosphere of prosperity which heralded 
the ultimate fortunes of the new land. 

Nevertheless, the inheritances of the older days of struggle 
and primitive society are still in evidence — the lack of 
facilities at the small country inns, the coarseness and rude- 
ness of the manner of hving, the heavy drinking and bois- 
terous amusements of the young, the fighting, the incivility 
to travellers, the boorishness of manners. AU these are 
relics of the early days when the rough struggle with the 
wilderness developed the cruder rather than the finer vu-- 
tues of men. On the other hand, as we have already 
pointed out, Cuming shows us the hopeful elements of this 
new land: not only its wonderful material prosperity, its 
democratic spirit and sense of fairness, but its adaptability, 




its hospitality for new ideas, the beginnings of the fine art 
of good living, and eagerness to promote schools, churches, 
and the organizations for the higher life. 

Some of the particular features recorded by Cuming, that 
are now obsolete, are the use of lotteries for raising money 
for public purposes, and the prevalence of highway robbery 
in the unsettled parts of the country. The restlessness of 
the population is also worthy of note — the long journeys 
for trivial purposes, the abandoned settlements in Kentucky 
and Illinois. 

Especially valuable for purposes of comparison, is Cum- 
ing's accurate account of the towns through which he passed 
— their size and appearance, number and kind of manufac- 
tures, business methods and interests. Characteristic of the 
period also, is the enterprise of the inhabitants — town- 
sites laid out at every available position, speculation in 
lands, and large confidence in the future of the region. In 
that confidence Cuming appears fully to have shared. 
Already, he tells us, food-stuffs were being exported to 
Europe, the growth of the cotton industry promised large 
returns, the richness of the soil and the resources and fer- 
tility of the land fostered high hopes. 

In regard to social conditions, our author writes at a time 
when the formerly uniform and homogeneous character of 
the Western population was beginning to break up, espe- 
cially in the slave states and territories, and when the pro- 
fessional classes and large land-owners were taking a leading 
position in affairs. He notes particularly the importance 
and assumption of leadership on the part of the lawyers. 
The virulent excitement of political life is one of the fea- 
tures of his observations that his first editor attempted to 
excuse and modify. It was doubtless true that the inci- 
dents attendant upon the arrest and trial of Burr had espe- 
cially aroused the section through which Cuming passed. It 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

is probable, however, that his portrayal of the animosity 
of political divisions is substantially accurate; and that not 
only did "politics run high" at the tavern and political 
club, but it controlled the social coterie, and in early Ameri- 
can society adjusted lines of relationship more strictly than 
is evident today. 

The areas which Cuming visited were those, with the 
exception of Tennessee, in which were to be found the most 
characteristic features of Western life. Western Pennsyl- 
vania and Northwestern Virginia comprised a homogeneous 
population, living under similar conditions. Closely allied 
was Kentucky, although it was beginning to be modified by 
settled conditions, the prosperity of low, rich pasture lands, 
and its distance from Eastern markets. In Ohio, however, 
Cuming encountered the New England element — but 
well mixed with Southerners on the Virginia bounty-lands, 
French of the Gallipolis settlement, and New Jersey and 
Middle States emigration to the region of the Miamis. His 
narrative, continued down the Ohio, shows the scarcity of 
population in Indiana and Illinois, and in Kentucky below 
Louisville; also the frontier character of that region as far 
down the Mississippi as the Natchez district. Here again, 
Cuming meets with an area of settlement begun under the 
British rule of West Florida, and continued under Spanish 
authority, until a few years before his voyage. In Missis- 
sippi, he portrays to us the beginnings of plantation life — 
the large estates, with gangs of negroes; the hospitality, 
cultivation, and charm of the upper classes, jostled by the 
rude waifs and strays that the river traffic wafted to their 
landings. In spite of diversities, the characteristics of 
Western life had much sameness — the mingling of the popu- 
lation, the shifting of people from all sections, and the 
dependence upon the rivers as the great arteries of Western 




commerce, with its ultimate outlet by way of the Mississippi 
and New Orleans. 

Cuming's work was not immediately published after 
writing. The manuscript passed into the possession of 
Zadok Cramer, a Pittsburg printer who was particularly in- 
terested in Ohio and Mississippi navigation, for which he 
published a technical guide called The Navigator, that ran 
through numerous editions. Cramer annotated Cuming's 
manuscript, adding thereto a considerable appendix of 
heterogeneous matter — collected, as he says in his ad- 
vertisement, "from various sources while the press was going 
on with the work, and frequently was I hurried by the com- 
positors to furnish copy from hour to hour.' ' This material, 
much of it irrelevant and reprinted from other works, the 
present Editor has thought best to omit. It ranges from a 
description of the bridge at Trenton to Pike's tour through 
Louisiana — embracing such diverse matter as "Of the 
character of the Quakers," "Sculptures of the American 
Aborigines," and "Particulars of John Law's Mississippi 
Scheme.' ' 

The hope of Cramer that a second edition would soon be 
called for, was not fulfilled. Put forth in 1810, the book 
has never been reprinted until the present edition, which it is 
believed will be welcomed by students of American history. 

As in former volumes of the series, Louise Phelps Kel- 
lo^, Ph.D., of the Wisconsin Historical Library, has 
assisted in the preparation of the notes. The Editor desires, 
also, to acknowledge his obligations to Mrs. Frances C. 
Wordin, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for valuable informa- 
tion concerning her grandfather, Dr. John Cummins, of 
Bayou Pierre, Mississippi. 

R. G. T. 

Madison, Wis., April, 1904. 

Cuming's Sketches of a Tour to the Western 

Country — 1807-1809. 

Rq)rint of the origiiial edition (Pittsbuigh, 1810). Tiie Appendix, 
being composed (rf irrdevant matter, is herein omitted. 



% ©opa0e 





raiVTiv t rsaLiiaiD ir ckamkb. iraAk k ■tcbravii. 

BE it remembered, That on the first day of May, in the thirty- 
fourth year of the Independence of the United States of America, A.D. 
iSio, Zadolc Cramer, of the said district, hath deposited in this office, 
the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the 
words following, to wit : 

Sketches oj a Tour to the Western Country, through the States oj Ohio 
and Kentucky; a Voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and a 
Trip through the Mississippi territory, and part oj West Florida. Com- 
menced at Pkiladdphia in the winter of 1807, and concluded in 1S09. 
By F. Cuming. With Notes and an Appendix, containing some inter- 
esting Facts, together mlh a notice oj an Expedition through Louisiana. 

Id conformity to an act of the congress of the United States, intituled, 
"An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of 
maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies 
during the times therein mentioned." And also to the act, entitled 
" An act supplementary to an act, entitled an act for the encouragement 
of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the 
authors and proprietors o£ such copies during the time therein men- 
tioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, 
engraving, and etching historical and other prints." 

D. CALDWELL, clerk 0} 
the district of Pennsylvania. 



Commencement of journey — Schuylkill bridge — Schuylkill rivt 
— Downingstown — Brandywine creek -— Pequea creek — 
New HoUand — Connestoga creek and bridge — Lancaster »$ 

Elizabcthtown — Susquehannah river — Harrisburgb . . -33 

CHAP. Ill 
Connestoga massacre — Carlisle and Dickinson college . . 4a 

Shippensburgh — Strasburgh — Horse valley . , . - 49 

Fannetsburgh — Juniata — Bloody run — Bedford . . - 55 

Allegheny mountains — Somerset — A murder . , , .61 

Laurd and Chesnut hills — Greensburgh — Pittsburgh . 70 

CHAP, vni 

Pittsburgh — Lawyers — Clergymen 76 

Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers 87 

Georgetown — Little Beaver creek 100 

Steubcnville — Chariestown 106 

Warren — Wheeling — Canton iii 

20 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

Little and Big Grave creeks — Monuments . ,114 

Muskingum — Marietta — Fortifications i ao 

Little Eenhawa — Blennerhassel's island 126 

Little and Big Hockhocking — Bellville 130 

Le Tart's falls — Graham's station 135 

Point Pleasant — Battle — Dunmore's campaign , . . 140 

[iv] CHAP. XIX 
Galliopolis — Green's bottom — Hanging rock .... 147 

Big Guiandot — Great Sandy — Snakes 153 

French Grant — Little Sdota — Portsmouth . . , -156 

Sdota — Alexandria — Salt-works 161 

CHAP, xxni 

Brush creek — Manchester — Maysville 163 

Washington, K. — May's and Blue licks — Salt furnaces . . 170 

NicholasviUe — MiUersburgh — Massacre . . .176 

Lexington i8r 

CHAP, xxvn 

Leesburgh — Frankfort 189 

CHAP, xxvni 

Paris — Frank Bird — Hospitality 196 

1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West '. 

Commence a journey from Maysville through the state of Ohio to 
Pittsburgh a 

Bainbridge — Arrival at Chilicothe a 

TheSdota — Chilicothe — Monuments 315 

Hockhocking — New Lancaster — Zanesville .... 219 

Wills's creek — Cambridge — Beymer's sa6 

St. ClairsviUe — Indian Wheeling ajo 

Little Wheeling — Alexandria or Hardscramble . . . 934 

Washington, Penn. — Canonsburgh — Pittsburgh . . . 338 

Pittsburgh — Panorama around it 249 

CHAP, xxxvm 

Descends the Ohio again — Columbia, Newport, Cincinnati, Port 
Williams, LouisviUe, falls 355 

Blue river — Horse machinery boat 961 

Green river — Henderson — Cotton machine 

Wabash river, Shawanee town, Rocking cave 

Cumbertand river, Tennessee, Fort Massac 

Missssippi, New Madrid, Little Prairie 279 

. .65 

■ »73 

22 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

Indian wamours, their manners and customs .... 284 

Fort Pike, Chickasaw Indians, Fort Pickering .... 289 

Settlements of Arkansas and White river 295 

Grand lake, Anecdote of a Carolinean 300 

Walnut Hills, Fort M'Henry, Bayou Pierre .... 305 

Commenceatourbyland, Cole's creek, Greenville . 310 

Washington, Natchez, Mississippi territory .... 318 

Homochito, Fort Adams, Pinkneyville 326 

Enter West Florida, Thomson's creek 331 

Baton Rouge, Spanish govemour, Mrs. O'Brien's . , 339 

Remarks on thr climate, soil, manners, face of the country, pro- 
ductions, &C. 347 

The description of the Mississippi continued from Bayou Pierre to 
New Orieans — Thence a sea voyage lo Philadelphia, by an- 
other hand 354 

The writer of the following tour would not trouble the 
reader with a Preface, did not some circumstances render it 
in a certain degree necessary. 

It might be asked why he had not commenced the tour 
with a particular description of Philadelphia. His reasons 
for not doing so were, in the first place, Philadelphia is a city 
so minutely described in every modem geographical publica- 
tion, that few readers are unacquainted with its local situa- 
tion between the rivers Delaware and Schuylkill, its regu- 
larity of plan, its rapid progress, &c. Whereas the coimtry 
through which the author travelled has been very little treated 
of by tourists, of course is little known to strangers; though 
an account of its appearance, its natural properties, its im- 
provements, and the manners of its mixed population, per- 
haps merits a place on the shelves of the literati, as much as 
the numerous tours and travels through Europe, Asia and 
Africa with which they are loaded. Indeed, in one point of 
view, such a book may be much more useful, as it may serve 
for a record of the situation of a country, in its infancy, 
which from its rapid improvement in a very few years, will 
form a wonderful contrast to its present state, while the 
trans-Atlantick travellers have to treat of countries either 
arrived at the highest state of improvement, or of others 
buried in the gloom of ignorance and barbarity, and 
of course both stationary, and therefore not affording 
any variety of consequence, during the two last centuries, 
{in which time they have been the theme of so many 
able pens) excepting the style of writing and manner of 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

In the second place — It was the author's wish to condense 
as much into one cheap volume as he could make it contain, 
and had he entered into minute descriptions of places the 
best known, he would [have] had so much the less room for 
the original matter, with which he intended to constitute 
the bulk of the work. 

It was intended to have put the work to the press in the 
winter of 1807, the year in which the tour commenced, but a 
series of disappointments essayed by the author, has un- 
avoidably postponed it, and has given him an opportunity 
of adding to the original plan, some account of the lower 
parts of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the countries 
washed by them, particularly the Mississippi territory, 
which has become of great importance to the United States, 
and is not without its value to Europe, from its immense 
supply of cotton to the European manufacturers. 

[viii] As the intention of the author was the increase of 
information, he makes no apology for the plainness of his 
style, and he expects, on that account, to be spared any criti- 
cism. Should however any one think proper to bestow a 
leisure hour in the remarking of his inaccuracies, or the 
incorrectness of his language, he can have no possible 
objection, as criticism of that kind always tends to general 


Mississippi territory, 20th Oct. 1809. 

Commencement of journey ~ Schuylkill bridge — Schuyl- 
kill river — Downingstown — Brandywine creek — Pe- 
quea creek — New Holland — Conestoga creek and 
Bridge — Lancaster. 

On 8th January 1807, I left PhOadelphia on foot, accom- 
panying a wagon which carried my baggage. I preferred 
this mode of travelling for several reasons. Not being 
pressed for time I wished to see as much of the country as 
possible ; the roads were in fine order, and I had no incentive 
to make me desirous of reaching any point of my intended 
journey before my baggage. With respect to expence, there 
was little difference in my travelling in this manner, or on 
horseback, or in the stage, had I been unincumbered with 
baggage; for the delay on the road, awaiting the slow pace 
of a loaded wagon, which is not quite three miles an hour, 
and not exceeding twenty-six miles on a winter's day, will oc- 
casion as great expence to a traveller in a distance exceeding 
two such days' journey, as the same distance performed 
otherwise in less than half the time, including the charge of 
horse or stage hire. 

The first object which struck me on the road, was the new 
bridge over the Schuylkill which does honour to its inventor 
for its originality of architecture, and its excellence of mech- 
anism. There are two piers, the westernmost of which is a 
work perhaps unexampled in hydraulick architecture, from 
the depth to which it is sunk; the rock on which it stands 
being forty-one feet nine inches below common [xo] high 
tides. Both piers were built within cofferdams: the design 


Early Western Travels 


for the western was furnished by William Weston, esq. of 
Gainsborough in England, a celebrated hydraulick engineer. 
Eight hundred thousand feet of timber, board measure, 
were employed in and about it. Mr. Samuel Robinson of 
Philadelphia, executed the work of the piers under the direc- 
tions of a president and five directors, who also superintended 
the mason work done by Mr. Thomas Vickers, on an uncom- 
mon plan, which has answered the intention perfectiy 
well. The walls of the abutments and wings are perpen- 
dicular without buttresses, and supported by interior offsets. 
The eastern abutment is founded on a rock, the western 
on piles. There are near eight thousand tons of masonry 
in the western pier, many of the stones in it, as well as in 
the eastern, weighing from three to twelve tons. Several 
massive chains are worked in with the masonry, stretched 
across the piers in various positions; and the exterior is 
clamped and finished in the most substantial manner. 

The frame of the superstructure was designed and erected 
by Mr. Timothy Palmer of Newburyport in Massachusetts, 
combining in its principles, that of ring prosts and braces 
with a stone arch. The platform for travelling rises only 
eight feet from a horizontal line. The foot ways are five 
feet in width, elevated above the carriage ways, and neatly 
protected by posts and chains. 

The whole of the bridge is covered by a roof, and the 
sides closed in, to preserve the timber from the decay occa- 
sioned by exposure to the weather. The side covering is 
done in imitation of masonry by sprinkling it with stone 
dust, while the painting was fresh: this is a novel mode of 
ornamenting and protecting the surfaces of wooden work 
exposed to weather, which from its goodness and cheapness 
will probably be brought into general use. The work of the 
[ii] roof and covering was done by Mr. Owen Biddle, house 
carpenter in Philadelphia. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 27 

The bridge was six years in building, was finished in 
1805, and cost in work and materials two hundred and 
thirty-five thousand dollars. The scite was purchased 
from the corporation of Philadelphia for forty thousand dol- 

This is the only covered wooden bridge we know of, ex- 
cepting one over the Liramat in Switzerland, built by the 
same carpenter who erected the so much celebrated bridge 
of Schauffhausen, since destroyed, the model of which I 
have seen, and I think this of Schuylkill deserves the prefer- 
ence both for simplicity and strength. It is 550 feet long, 
and the abutments and wing walls are 750, making in all 
1300 feet; the span of the middle arch is 195 feet, and that 
of the other two 150 each; it is 42 feet wide; the carriage 
way is 31 feet above the surface of the river, and the lower 
part of the roof is 13 feet above the carriage way; the depth 
of the water to the rock at the western pier is 42 feet, and at 
the eastern 21 feet. — The amount of the toll, which is 
very reasonable, was 14,600 dollars the first year after it was 
finished, which must increase very much in a country so 
rapidly improving. The proprietors are a company who 
have built commodious wharves on each side of the river, 
both for protection to the abutments of the bridge, and for 
the use of the city.' 

' For a siatistical account of the Schuylkill penu&nent bridge, the reader U 
referred lo a new and valuable work, the "Memoirs of the PMIadclphia Agricul- 
nual Society." vol. i, and to Biddle's " Voung Carpenter's Assistant." 

As B specimen of the difficulties, and uncommon perseverance of the company 
in builditig the Schuylkill bridge, wc give the following instance: The British troops 
when at Philadelphia had formed a bridge of boats over the Schuylkill, one of which 
had been acddenlally sunk in 1777, tweniy-cight feet below common bw water. 
It occupied a part of the area of the western cojjtr dam, with one end projecting 
under two of the piles of the inner row, and had nearly rendered (he erection 
abortive. It was first discovered on pumping out the dam, in iSoi; and was per- 
fectly sound, after the lapse of 35 years. The iron work had not the [east appear- 
ance of nut, or the wood (which was common oak) of decay. The taking this 
boat to pieces, the straining the dam, and the teaks in consequence, were the chief 

28 Early Western Travels (Vol. 4 

[12] The Schuylkill is a fine river nearly two hundred yards 
broad at the bridge. It rises in the Cushetunk mountains 
about a hundred and twenty miles to the N. W. of Phila- 
delphia. It is navigable for flat boats from the populous 
town of Reading about fifty miles above Philadelphia, but 
its navigation is impeded by falls about eight miles above 
the city, and by others about five miles above it, to which 
latter ones the tide flows, from its conflux with the Delaware 
four miles below Philadelphia. It supplies the city with 
water, pumped by steam* from a reservoir, with which [13] 
the river communicates by a canal near the bridge, into a 
cistern, from whence it is conveyed by pipes through the 
streets and to the houses, plugs being fixed at convenient 
distances for supplying the fire engines, for which there are 
too frequent use, from the quantity of timber still used in 
building, and from the fuel, which is chiefly wood. 

The banks of the Schuylkill being hilly, afford charming 
situations for country houses, in which the wealthy citizens 
of Philadelphia find a secure retreat from the unhealthy 
air of the town during the heats of summer. A good house, 
a spacious green house, fine gardens and a demesne formerly 

causes of an eitra expenditure, by the company, of more than 4000 doUais, hardly 
and perilously disbursed in pumping (which alone cost from 500 to 700 dollars 
weekly) and other labour, during forty one days and nights in the midst of a most 
inclement winter. Mem. Phila. Ag. Soc. — Cramer. 

' This waler steam enpne, otherwise called the waterworks, is a work of great 
magnitude. It cost 150 thousand dollars, and is capable of raising about 4,500,000 
gallons of water in 24 hours, with which the cily is daily supplied through wooden 
[Upes. The reservoir, into which the water is thrown, is capable of holding 30,000 
gallons, and is of a sufficient height to supply the dlizens with water ia the upper 
stories of thdr highest bouses. The first stone of this building was laid on the ad 
May, 1799, and it was completed in 1801-3. The works belong to the city, and the 
citizens pay a water tax equal to the eipence of keeping the engine in motion, which 
amounts to about 8,000 dollars annually. The building stands in the centre square, 
and consequently spoils the view down Market street. The trees and bouses ad- 
jacent, look as black and gloomy as those in Pittsburgh, ari^ng from the smoke 
of the mineral coal burnt in the works. — Ckauek. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


owned by the late Robert Morris, esq.' are a fine termination 
to the view up the river from the bridge. 

There is a turnpike road of sixty-sue miles from Philadel- 
phia to Lancaster, which my wagonner left at Downingstown 
about half way, keeping to the right along a new road, which is 
also intended for a turnpike road to Harrisburgh, and which 
passes through New Holland, where he had some goods to 
deliver. Downingstown is a village of about fifty middling 
houses.* The east branch of Erandywine creek crosses the 
road here, as the west branch does about eight miles further. 
— These two branches unite twelve or fourteen miles below, 
and fall into the Delaware near Wilmington, about twenty 
miles below their junction. The Erandywine is noted for a 
battle fought on its banks near its confluence with the 
Delaware, between the Eritish army under Sir William 
Howe and the American under General Washington, who 
endeavoured to oppose the progress of the enemy to Phila- 
delphia, from the head of Chesapeak bay where they had 

* This estate of Robert Monis, who died the year before Cuming's tour, was 
purchased in 1770, and had fonned part of the manor of Springetsbury. It is 
now within Fainnouni Park. Morris, known as the "finander of ihe American 
Resolution," was an Englishman who, emigrating ta Pennsylvania in 1747, became 
a prominent merchant of Philadelphia. After serving as a delegate to the Conti- 
ncotal Congress, and signing the Declaration of Independence, be was assigned 
tbe difBcult task of procuring funds for (he war. To his support was due the 
nuunteoance of on amy in Ihc field during the disastrous years of 1776 and 1777; 
while his chief accomplishment was financing the campaign that led to the battle 
of Yorictown. After retiring from the supcrinlendcncy of finance in 1784, Morris 
iCTVed in the Pennsylvania legislature (1786), tbe Constitutional Convention 
(17S7), and the United States Senate (1789-95), declining (he position of Secretary 
of tbe Treasury in Washington's cabinet. In later life his aSaira became involved, 
and be spent four years (i798-i8o3) in a debtor's prison. See Sumner, Rohtrl 
JTorrii (New York, iSgj).— Ed. 

' Downingtown, Chester County, took its name from Thomas Downing, who 
bought the location in 1739 and bequeathed il to his son. A mill had been estab- 
Gsbcd on the Brandywine at this place as early as 1716, and the town was indiSer- 
CDtly caUed Milltown or Downingtown until finally incorporated under the latter 
title in 1859.— Ed. 

30 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

landed. The conflict was obstinate, but the British being 
in great force, the Americans [14] were obliged to retreat, 
after heavy loss on both sides. 

The Brandywine mns through a rich and well settled 
country, and abounds with mills, where a vast quantity of 
flour is manufactured for exportation. — Pequea creek which 
falls into the Susquehannah, crosses the road about four 
miles from the west branch of Brandywine. Five miles 
further accompanying my wagonner, I turned to the left 
from the Harrisbui^h turnpike road, and in six miles more 
came to New Holland, which is a long straggling town of one 
hundred and fifty houses in one street, from whence it is seven 
miles to Conestoga creek. From the hill just above, I was 
struck with the romantick situation of a fine bridge over the 
creek below, more particularly as I came upon it unexpected- 
ly. The creek is about eighty yards wide, tumbling its 
rapid current, over an irregular rocky bottom and disap- 
pearing round the foot of a wooded hill, almost as soon as 
seen. The man who built the bridge lives on the opposite 
side. The toll not answering his expectations, he would 
have been a great sufferer, had not the state taken it off his 
hands and reimbursed his expences; since when, the toll 
has been taken off. — It is five miles from this bridge to 

The face of the country between Philadelphia and Lan- 
caster is hilly, and variegated with woods and cultivated 
farms. It is extremely well inhabited and consists of almost 
every variety of soil, from sandy and light, to a rich black 
mould, which last quality is observable generally between 
New Holland and Lancaster, except on the heights on each 
bank of the Conestoga. The first settlers of all this tract 
were English, Irish, and German, but the latter have grad- 
ually purchased from the others, and have got the best 
lands generally into their possession. They [15] are 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 3 1 

frugal and industrious, are good farmers, and consequently 
a wealthy people. 

Lancaster is supposed to be the largest inland town in the 
United States. It is in a healthy and pleasant situation, 
on the western slope of a hill, and consists of two prin- 
cipal streets, compactly built with brick and stone, and 
well paved and lighted, crossing each other at right 
angles. There is a handsome and commodious courthouse 
of brick in the centre, which, in my opinion is injurious to 
the beauty of the town, by obstructing the vista of the princi- 
pal streets. There are several other streets parallel to the 
principal ones the whole containing about eight hundred 
houses. The houses for publick worship are a German 
Lutheran, a German Calvinist, a Presbyterian, an Episco- 
palian, a Moravian, a Quaker, and a Roman Cathoiick 
church, amongst which the German Lutheran is the most 
conspicuous from its size and handsome spire: it has also 
an organ. — There is a strong jail built with stone, and a 
brick market house. What in my opinion does most 
honour to the town is its poor house, which is delightfully 
situated near Conestoga creek about a mile from the town 
on the right of the turnpike road towards Philadelphia. It 
is a large and commodious building, and is supported partly 
by the labour of those paupers who are able to work, and 
partly by a fine farm, which is annexed to it. There are 
several private manufacturies in Lancaster, amongst which 
are three breweries and three tanyards, but it is principally 
noted for its rifles, muskets, and pistols, the first of which are 
esteemed the best made in the United States. The inhabi- 
tants are chiefly the descendants of the first German settlers, 
and are a quiet, orderly people — They are estimated at 
about four thousand five hundred. 

This has been the seat of government of Pennsylvania 
since 1799, but it is not rendered permanently [16] so by an 

32 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

act of the legislature, which occasions attempts being made 
annually at every session of that body to remove it.' The 
eastern members advocating Philadelphia on account of 
its trade and population, and the western members en- 
deavouring to have it placed as near to the centre of the 
state as possible, which they contend will also shortly be 
the centre of population, from the rapid manner in which the 
country to the westward of the Allegheny mountains is 
settling. I was present at a very animated debate, on the 
subject in the house of representatives, during which much 
good argument, mixed with several sprightly and keen 
flashes of genuine wit, was used, but it all terminated, as it 
has hitherto invariably done, in favour of Lancaster — Of 
many situations proposed, Harrisburgh seemed to have the 
greatest number of advocates. 

Notwithstanding Lancaster is so populous and the seat of 
government besides, it is but a duU town with respect to 
society. The manners and taste of the inhabitants are not 
yet sufficiently refined by education, or intercourse with 
strangers, to make it a desirable situation for the residence 
of a person who wishes to enjoy the otium cum dignitate. 
An alteration in that respect will doubtless take place with 
the rising generation, whose education, the easy circum- 
stances of the present inhabitants, enable to pay a proper 
attention to, particularly as they seem desirous to balance 
their own deficiencies in literature and the polite accom- 
plishments, by their attention to their children in those 
particulars. There is no theatre, no assemblies, no literary 
societies, nor any ether publick entertainment, except occa- 
sionally an itinerant exhibition of wax-work, or a pup- 
pet-show: [17] but there are taverns without number, at 

> During the session of 1S09-10 the legislature passed a law for the removal of 
the seat oE the state goverameni to Harrisburgh in the year iSii, and appropriated 
the sum of $30,000 for the erection of publick buildings in thai place. — Cbamkb. 

i8o7-i8og] Cuming's Tour to the West 


some of which I have been informed, private gambling is 
very customary. 

There are horse races here annually, which last a week on 
a course on the common to the westward of the town, which 
like most other races in this country, are for the mere pur- 
poses of jockeying horses, and betting, and are not followed 
by balls and other social meetings of both sexes, as at amuse- 
ments of the same kind in Europe. Shooting with the rifle, 
is a favourite amusement, at which they are very dexterous, 
meeting at taverns at short distances from town, to shoot, 
sometimes at a mark for wagers, and sometimes at turkeys 
provided by the tavern keeper, at so much a shot, the turkey 
being the prize of the killer of it — the distance is generally, 
one hundred yards, and always with a single ball. 

Indian bridges over Chickey creeks — Elizabeth-town — 
Cheapness of living — Swatara creek and ferry — Middle- 
ton — Susquehannah river — Chambers's ferry — Har- 

On Thursday 29th January I left Lancaster on foot, pro- 
ceeding along the Harrisburgh road, at a steady pace of 
about three miles and a half an hour. The weather was 
remarkable fine, and the road in excellent order, and what 
was remarkable for the season, a little dusty. About a mile 
and a half from Lancaster, I past a turnpike toll gate, from 
a little beyond which I got the last view of the steeples of 
that town, and soon after I crossed a stone bridge over a 
branch of Conestoga creek. The road continued [18] fine, 
and the country rich, laid out in large farms, with good 
dwelling houses of brick and stone, and immense bams. 
Though hill and dale, woods and cultivated farms, presented 
themselves alternately yet there was nothing very striking 
in the scenery. 

34 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

The road continued fine, nine miles, to a rivulet called 
Big Chickey, which I crossed over on an Indian bridge, 
which is a high tree cut down so as to fall across the stream 
from bank to bank, and then its branches lopped off. 
The banks being high, and the bridge long and narrow, my 
nerves were so discomposed when I reached the middle, that 
I had like to have fallen off, but balancing and tottering, I at 
length reached the end. 

Two miles further I had to cross another Indian bridge 
over Little Chickey creek, which I did boldly, without any 
difficulty; which is one proof of the use of practice and 

The road now became very bad, the turnpike intended 
from Lancaster to Harrisburgh not being as yet finished any 
further.' The coimtry also is not so highly improved as in 
the neighbourhood of Lancaster, the inhabitants still residing 
in their original small log houses, though they have generally 
good and spacious stone bams. 

After four hours walking, I arrived at Elizabethtown 
eighteen miles from Lancaster,' and stopped at the sign of 
General Wayne, where for a five penny bit (six cents and a 
quarter) I got a bowl of excellent e^ punch, and a crust 
of bread. 

It is surprising that at so short a distance from Lancaster, 
the necessaries of life should be at least a third cheaper, 
which on enquiry I found them here. 

This village contains about thirty tolerable houses — has 

' This turnpike is now completed, I am informed, as far as Middleton, and 
another extends from Lancaster to York, and is progressing on that route to Cham- 
bersburgh.— Craueh. 

' The site of Elizabethtown was seoued b^ an Indian trader in 1746, who sold 
it seven jears later to Barnabas Hughes. The latter, a noted Uvem-keeper, kid 
out the town and named it in honor of his wife. On the highway between Lancas- 
ter and Harrisburg, Elizabethtown soon became an important stopping place, the 
original log-cabia tavern having been extant until iSj;. — Eo. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the JVest 


a meeting house, and a school, when a master [19] can be 
got, which is not always the case, the place having now 
been some months vacant, to whom the trustees ensure 
twenty-five scholars, at two dollars each per quarter, which 
being only two hundred dollars per annum, I would have 
supposed insufficient for his support, if at the same time I 
had not been informed that his board and lodging in the most 
respectable manner, will not cost him above eighty dollars 
a year, in this cheap and plentiful country." 

After resting about an hour, and not feeling at all fatigued, 
at half past four, I proceeded for Middleton, eight miles 
further, first loading one of the barrels of my gun with a 
running ball, as I had to pass near where one Eshelman was 
robbed and murdered last fall. 

The road over Connewago hills was bad, and by the time 
I arrived at the bridge over Connewago creek, three miles 
from Elizabethtown, my left foot began to pain me, so that 
I was forced to slacken my pace, which made it dark before 
I arrived at Swatara creek, when the pain had much in- 
creased, which was occasioned by my stepping through the 
ice up to my knees in a run which crossed the road, which 
the darkness prevented my seeing. 

The boat was at the other side of the creek, and the 
German family at the ferry house let me kick my heels at 
the door until I was quite chilled, before they invited me in, 
which old Mrs. Smith did at last with a very bad grace, and 
she almost scolded me for risking the dropping on her very 
dirty floor, the spirits of turpentine, with which I was wet- 
ting the feet of my stockings to prevent my catching cold, 
a phial of which I carried in my pocket for that purpose. 

* Cuming here dcsoibes one of Ihe neighborhood or voluntary schools, organized 
chiefly in the frontier districts, which afterwards (1834) became the basis of the 
lomnuin school system of Pennsylvania. See Wickersham, Bulery oj EducaHon 
m Ptimtylvania (Lancaster, 1S86), pp. 17S-183. — Ed. 

In about half an hour, which appeared to me an age, the 
boat returned, and I gladly left the dirty, boorish, inhospit- 
able mansion, crossed the creek in a canoe, hauled over 
by a rope extended from bank to bank, about 70 yards, and 
in a few minutes after [20] I found myself in Mrs. Wentz's 
excellent inn, the sign of general Washington in Middleton. 
My foot being much blistered, I bathed it in cold water, and 
then injudiciously opened the blisters with a lancet, and 
spunged them with spirits of turpentine: I then got a good 
supper and an excellent bed, but my foot pained me so 
much as to prevent my sleeping, so I arose early, unrefreshed, 
and breakfasted with my landlady, an agreeable, well bred 

The view dovm the Susquehannah from Mrs. Wentz's 
back piazza is very fine. The town contains about a hun- 
dred houses and is well and handsomely situated about 
half a mUe above the conflux of Swatara creek with Sus- 
quehannah river, the former of which forms a good har- 
bour for boats, which it is in contemplation to join to the 
Schuylkill by a canal, in order to give Philadelphia the 
benefit of the navigation of the Susquehannah through its 
long course above Middleton. If this is carried into effect, 
it will draw to Philadelphia a vast quantity of produce, which 
now goes to Baltimore.* 

The Susquehannah is a noble river, here about a mile 
wide, with fine sloping wooded banks, and abounds with 
rock-fish, perch, mullet, eels, suckers, cat-fish and white 
salmon, which last is described as a fine fish from seven to 
fifteen pounds weight, but a distinct species from the red 
salmon of the northern rivers. Notwithstanding their 

* Middletown was so lumed from being biilf waj' between LancasceT and Car- 
lisle. It is older than Hairisburg, and was first Icnown as "South End of Pai- 
tang township." It Sourisbed until 17961 when an enterprising merchant discov- 
ering that the Susquehanna could be navigated, trade wag diverted hence to Balti- 
more. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


plenty, Mrs. Wentz assured me that she was seldom gratified 
with a dish of fish; for though there are many poor people 
in the town and neighbourhood, who might make a good 
living by fishing, she says they are too lazy to do any thing 
more than will procure them some whiskey, in addition to a 
miserable subsistence, which a very little labour will suffice 
for in a country where work is so well paid for, and where 
the necessaries of life are so abundant and cheap. 

Was it not that the Susquehannah abounds with [21] falls, 
shallows and rapids which impede the navigation, it would 
be one of the most useful rivers in the world, as its different 
branches from its different sources, embrace a wonderful 
extent of country, settled, or rapidly settling, and abounding 
in wheat and maize (Indian com,) which most probably will 
always be staples of the large and flourishing state of Penn- 

The road to Harrisburgh leads parallel to the Susque- 
hannah, in some places close to the river, and never more 
distant from it than a quarter of a mile, along a very pleas- 
ant level, bounded on the right by a ridge of low, but 
steep wooded hills, approaching and receding at intervals, 
and affording a fine shelter from the northerly winds, to the 
farms between them and the river; which perhaps is one 
reason that the orchards are so numerous and so fine in 
this tract. 

I have rarely seen in any country, a road more pleasant 
than this, either from its own goodness, or the richness and 
variety of prospect. The Susquehannah on the left about 
three quarters of a mile wide; sometimes appearing, and 
sometimes concealed by orchards, groves or clumps of 
wood. The fine wooded islands in the river. The moun- 
tains which terminate the ridge called the South mountain 
(which crosses part of Virginia, and the southern part of 
this state) rising abruptly from the mai^in of the river, in 

38 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

which they are charmingly reflected, altogether form a 
scenery truly delightful. 

About three miles below Harrisburgh the mountains ter- 
minate, and the south bank of the river becomes more varied, 
though still hilly; and here on an elevated promontory, with 
a commanding view of the river, from above Harrisburgh to 
below Middleton, is a large, and apparently fine stone house, 
owned by general Simpson who resides in it on his farm, 
and is proprietor of a ferry much frequented by the western 
wagonners, as the road that way is [22] shorter by two miles, 
than that by Harrisburgh. — He farms out the ferry on his 
side for about three hundred dollars per annum, while on 
this side the proprietor rents it at four hundred and seventy. 
The value of this ferry called Chambers's, may serve to 
convey some idea of the state of travelling in this country, 
particularly if one reflects that there are many other well 
frequented ferries where publick roads cross the river, 
within thirty miles both above and below this one, and which 
are all great avenues to the western country. 

When two miles from the ferry I observed a long line of 
sleds, horses, men, &c. crossing on the ice; which scene, at 
that distance had a curious and picturesque appearance, as 
the ice was glassy, and in consequence they appeared to be 
moving on the surface of the water, in which their shadows 
inverted and reflected as in a mirror, struck the eye with 
very grotesque imagery. 

Some labourers who were at work in a bam at the ferry 
house, and of whom I was asking some questions relative 
to the country, were much astonished at my double barrelled 
gim, admiring its work and lightness, and calling it a curious 

When within a mile and a half of Harrisburgh,'" the white 

" For the emly histoiy of Hairisburg, see Post's Journals, vol. i of this series, 
p. 237, note 73.— Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


cupola of its court-house, and the roofs of the houses of the 
town are seen peeping over the trees, and have a good effect. 

At one o'clock I entered that town, turning to the left 
over Paxton creek bridge. I stopt at the ferry-house, which 
is also a tavern, but appearance of accommodation not being 
very promising, I continued my walk along the bank of the 
river, and stopt at another tavern, where I asked if I could 
have a bed that night. A dirty looking girl at the stove 
drawled but that she believed I might. I then asked for 
some mulled wine. She said eggs were scarce, and she 
could not get any. From these symptoms of [23] careless- 
ness, I thought it best to try my fortune a little further; so 
putting on my shot belt and taking my gun, I quietly walked 
out in search of a place of more civil reception, and fortu- 
nately I entered Bennet's, the sign of the white horse, front- 
ing the river, at the comer of the principal cross street, 
which leads to the market place. I say jorlunatdy, for I 
found it an excellent, plentiful and well frequented house, 
and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, two fine girls, his daughters by 
a former wife, and a Mr. Fisher an assistant, and apparently 
some relation, all attentive and studious to please. 

After getting some refreshment I wrote some letters, and 
carried them to the post-office. The office being shut, the 
postmaster very civilly invited me into his parlour, to settle 
for the postage, where seeing a large map of Pennsylvania, 
I took the opportunity of tracing my journey, which the 
postmaster observing, he very politely assisted me in it, 
pointing out the most proper route. There were some 
ladies in the room, apparently on a visit, and there was an 
air of socially and refinement throughout, which was very 

Leaving the post-office I walked through the town. It 
contains about two hundred and fifty houses, most of them 
very good, some of brick, some of stone, and some of wood. 



40 Eariy Western Travels [Vol. 4 

The principal street runs nearly east and west, and has two 
small market-houses in the centre, where the street is 
widened purposely into a small square. Parallel to this 
main street is a street charmingly situated on the bank of the 
Susquehannah, open to the river on the side next it, and 
tolerably well built on the other, having a wide foot way, 
in some parts paved, and marked in its whole length by a 
row of IjDmbardy poplars regularly planted, which serves 
also to shade the houses from the scorching rays of the sum- 
mers sim. This street, though at present wide enough, has 
not been laid [24] out sufficiently so to provide against the 
gradual encroachment of the river, on its steep gravelly 
bank of about twenty feet high above the common level of 
the water. The view from every part of this street is very 
beautiful, both up and down the river, about five miles 
each way — terminated upwards by the long ridge of the 
Blue mountains, through a gap in which of about three 
miles long, which is also open to the view, the river rolls its 
rapid current, contracted there to less than half a mile 
wide. While downwards the eye rests on the South moun- 
tain, impending over general Simpson's house, which in its 
turn seems to overhang the river, from the high promontory 
on which it is situated. Several islands add to the beauty 
of the view, particularly one, on which is a fine farm of 
nearly one hundred acres just opposite the town. 

The court-house is near the market square on the princi- 
pal cross street, and is a handsome plain brick building of 
two lofty stories, with a cupola rising from the centre of 
the roof, remarkable for its vane of copper gilt, representing 
an Indian chief, as large as the life, with a bow in his left 
hand, and a tomahawk in the act of cutting, in the right. 
The house is about seventy feet by fifty, with two small 
receding wings. The hall for the court is very neat, spacious 
and convenient; doors opening from it into the record and 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 41 

prothonotary's offices in the wings. A fine easy double 
staircase leads to the great room over the hall for the courts. 
This room is now used as a temporary place of worship by 
the English Presbyterians, until their own meeting house is 
finished, which is of brick and in great forwardness. From 
each comer of this room a door opens into the register 
office, the library and two jury rooms. 

There is as yet no other place of publick worship in Har- 
risburgh, except an old wooden house used as such, by a 
congregation of German Lutherans. 

[28, i. e., 25] This town which is now the capital of Dauphin 
county was laid out twenty-three years ago by the late pro- 
prietor, Mr. Harris, whose father is buried near the bank of 
the river, opposite the stone house he lived in, under a large 
old tree, which, once during his life, concealed and saved 
him from some Indians, by whom he was pursued. 

I observed in the office of a Mr. Downie, a magistrate, 
a newly invented patent stove, made of sheet iron, con- 
sisting of two horizontal parallel cylinders, about a foot 
apart, one over the other and communicating by a pipe; 
the upper one is heated by the smoke from the lower, which 
contains the fuel. Mr. Downie informed me that it saved 
much fuel. The patentee lives here. 

On returning to my inn, I found there a Mr. W. P , of 

Pittsburgh, just arrived. In the course of the evening he 
gave me much good information of the western country, ac- 
companied by a friendly invitation to call on him in Pitts- 
burgh, should I be detained there until his return from 
Philadelphia, where he was now going. He had formerly 
lived in Harrisburgh for some years after his arrival from 
Ireland, his native country. The joyful eagerness with 
which numbers of his old acquaintance flocked to Bennet's 
to visit him, evinced his having been much esteemed and 

Early Western Travels 


Harrisburgh ferry — Old Jameson — The Conestoga massa- 
cre — Militia riflemen — Carlisle and Dickenson college. 

On Saturday 24th, I arose early, but the ferry-boat not 
being ready, I partook of an excellent breakfast with my 
friendly host and his family, and at ten o'clock I embarked 
in a large flat, with the western mail and several passengers 
and horses. The flat was worked by nine stout men, with 
short setting poles shod and pointed with iron, to break the 
ice and stick in the bottom. Only one set or pushed on the 
upper side, while eight set on the lower side, to keep the 
boat from being forced by the current against the ice, while 
a tenth steered with a large oar behind. A channel for this 
purpose had been cut through the ice, and was kept open 
as loaded wagons could cross the river in a flat with more 
safety than on the ice. 

In twenty-two minutes we were landed on the western 
shore of the Susquehannah in Cumberland county; and I 
trudged on, my foot paining me very much, until half past 
twelve o'clock, when I stopped at a tavern seven miles from 
the ferry and got some refreshment. Here I found a tall 
active old man of the name of Jameson, seventy-six years 
of age, who had crossed the ferry with me, and had after- 
wards passed me on the road, on horseback. He had 
accompanied his parents from the county Antrim in Ireland 
when only six years old, had resided thirty-six years at 
Paxton, near where Harrisburgh has since been built, (where 
he had been on business) and had afterwards removed to a 
part of Virginia about two hundred miles distant, where he 
has a large farm and distillery. He insisted on treating me, 
as he said, he liked to encourage the consumption of whis- 
key; of which, and the telling of old stories he was so fond, 
that he appeared to forget he had so [2 7] long a journey before 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fTest 


him, iintil reminded by seeing some travellers pass on horse- 
back, whom he hastened to overtake for the sake of their 
company. He did not however neglect finishing his whiskey, 
which he swallowed with great gout, and on mounting his 
horse, cracked jokes about a buxom widow, at whose 
tavern beyond Carlisle, he proposed sleeping that night. 
Among other stories with which he had entertained me, 
he told me the particulars of the massacre of the Indians 
at Lancaster, and he took a good deal of pride to himself, 
for having been one of the heroes who had assisted on that 
memorably disgraceful expedition. In justice however to 
the old man, I must observe that he related with pleasure 
that the party he accompanied, arrived too late in Lancas- 
ter to assist in the carnage." 

[28] As this is a circumstance not generally known, it may 
not be amiss to introduce here a short account of it. — The 
Conestoga Indians, as they were called, from their residence 
near the banks of Conestoga creek, were the remains of a 
tribe of the Six nations, who entered into a treaty with Wil- 
liam Penn the first proprietor of the then province of Pennsyl- 
vania, towards the close of the seventeenth century, by 
which they had a thousand acres of land assigned them in 

" The character here given o£ old Mr. Jameson, puts us in mind of an old man 
of a similar character in Washington county, Pennsylvania, of the name of Fore- 
man, who at thio time is ninely-eigM years of age, I had a curiosity in seeing this 
old gentleman, and about two years ago called on him for the purpose of convers- 
ing a few minutes with bim- I was fully paid the trouble, for I found him talka- 
tivc and considerably nortdly minded. Among other things he observed that 
"The fashions of the day had injured society, and had lead astray the minds of 
young men and young women from the paths of simple and rustick honesty they 
used to walk in fifty or sixty years ago. That there was much hypocrisy in the 
shew of so much religion as appeared at present. That people were too fond of 
lying in their beds late in the morning, and drinking too much whiskey. That 
be himself used to take a frolick now and then to treat his friends of a Saturday 
ni^I, after working hard all the week, but that he had not drank any spirituous 
liqiuiB for twenty-five years. Thai he had been always an early riser, having 
been in the habit when he first settled where he now lives (having come from Vit- 
^nia about thirty ycais ago) of going around to all his neighbours before or about 

44 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

the manor of Conestoga for their residence. This treaty 
had been frequently renewed afterwards, and was never 
violated on either part until their extermination by the sur- 
rounding settlers. It is remarked that the Indians dimin- 
ish rapidly, in proportion to the increase of European set- 
tlers in the neighbourhood of any of their towns. This was 
very observable here, where from a tribe, they had decreased 
in about seventy years, to seven men, five women, and eight 

An Indian war had commenced through the intrigues of 
the French, in the year 1 754, at the commencement of which, 
many of the frontier inhabitants being murdered or driven 
in by the aborigines, aided by the French, a general panick 
followed. The Conestoga Indians, notwithstanding their 
weakness, their local situation, and their peaceable and in- 
nocent habits of supporting themselves by making of wicker 
[29] baskets, brooms and other wooden ware, which they 
sold to their white neighbours, as well as the skins of the 
wild animals which they killed in hunting, became objects of 
terror to the panick struck whites. To be an Indian, was 
enough to excite both the passions of fear and revenge. 
This poor defenceless remnant of a once powerful tribe, had 
but just sent an address, according to their custom on the 

day-light, lo wakeo them up, aad bid them good morning, and return home again 
before hia own family would be out of bed. 1 asked him why he never came to 
Ktlsburgh; he replied that he could ride there he supposed, but that he had no 
business in that place, hut that he should like to move to Kentucky or to the state 
of Ohio, if he went any where. On speaking of his great age and the probable 
number of years he might yet live, he seemed inclined to believe he would live at 
least four years longer, (being then ninety-six} wishing as appeared to mc, to make 
out the round number of om hundred years. He is quite a small man, somewhat 
emaciated, but erect in his carriage, can sec tolerably well, and walks about the 
house without a cane, milk and vegetables have been, through life, his principal 
diet, and water his beverage. His present wife, being his second, is quite a smart 
woman, and is about eighty-six years old. The old gentleman observed that he 
had never to his recollection been sick, so as to have required the aid of a physi- 
cian-' Happy old man thought I, thou bast been happy, and art still sol — Peace 
to the remainder of thy lengthened daysl — Cbaueb. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


occasion of every new governor, to John Penn, esq. who 
then held that office; welcoming him on his arrival from 
Britain, and praying a continuance of that favour and pro- 
tection they had hitherto experienced; when at the dawn 
of day of the 14th December 1763, the Indian village was 
attacked by about sixty men well mounted and armed. 
Only three men, two women and a boy were found at home, 
the rest being out among the whites vending their little 
wares. Those poor wretches were butchered and scalped 
in the manner of the savages, by those more savage descend- 
ants of the civilized Europeans: Even the hoary locks of 
the venerable and good old chief Shebaes, who had assisted 
at the second treaty between the whites and Indians in 
1701, and who had always since been the avowed friend of 
the former, could not excite the mercy, much less the respect 
of his barbarous assassins: — he was cut to pieces in his bed, 
and scalped with the rest, and the huts were then com- 
mitted to the flames. The magistrates of Lancaster col- 
lected the remaining Indians, and brought them into that 
town, condoling with them on the late misfortune, and 
promising them protection; with which intent they were put 
into the jail, as the strongest building in the town. 

Their merciless blood hounds not satiated with the blood 
already spilt, and increased to the number of five hundred 
well armed men, marched into Lancaster. No opposition 
was made to them, though the first party which arrived did 
not consist of [30] more than fifty, who without awaiting 
any of the rest, forced the jail, dragged their victims into the 
yard, and there immolated them, while clinging to their 
knees, and supplicating mercy. In this manner they all, 
men, women, and children, received the hatchet, amid the 
exultations of their murderers, who after the tragedy, parad- 
ed the streets, huzzaing, and using every other mark of self- 
approbation for the glorious deed they had achieved. How 

46 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

weak must have been the government, which dared not at- 
tempt any publick investigation of an act so disgraceful to 
humanity, and in such direct violation of the laws; but it is 
a fact that not even the name of one of the perpetrators was 
ever published ; they were however generally known by the 
appellation of Paxton boys, though the township of Paxton 
was only one of many concerned. 

At the tavern where I overtook Jameson, I saw some young 
men in blue jackets with scarlet binding, the uniform of a 
volunteer corps of militia riflemen. They had been with 
their rifles in search of squirrels, but unsuccessfully, the 
weather being too cold for those animals to come out of 
their hollow trees. 

Apropos of the rifle. — The inhabitants of this country 
in common with the Virginians, and all the back woods 
people, Indians as well as whites, are wonderfully expert 
in the use of it: thinking it a bad shot if they miss the very 
head of a squirrel, or a wild turkey, on the top of the h^hest 
forest tree with a single ball; though they generally load with 
a few grains of swan shot, with which they are equally sure 
of hitting the head of the bird or animal they fire at. 

Ten miles further brought me to Carlisle," at six o'clock 
in the evening; the whole road from Harrisburgh [31] being 
very fine and level, the houses and farms good, and the face 
of the country pleasant. The view on the right is all the 
way terminated by the Blue mountains — the longest north 
eastern branch of the Allegheny ridge, horn ^ to ten miles 

I observed about a mile from Carlisle on the left, and 
about a half a mile from the road, a large handsome stone 
house belonging to a Mr. Jackson of Baltimore, which was 
formerly owned by General Arden; and about half way 

account of Carlisle, w« Post's Jourmiti, vol. i of this series, p. 137, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


between it and the town, and also to the left of the road, the 
large barrack, magazine, and depot of arms, built during 
the revolutionary war. Dickenson college, a spacious stone 
building with a cupola was directly before me, with the 
town of Carlisle on the left of it extending to the southward 
on an elevated plain: the whole having a very good effect on 
the approach. The twilight shutting out further view, I 
hastened through a tolerable compact street to Foster's, to 
which I had been recommended as the best inn. I asked 
if I could have a bed that night, and was answered 
rudely, by an elderly man, in the bar who I took for the 
landlord, after he had eyed me with a contemptuous 
scrutiny — that I could not. The house appeared a little 
would be stylish — and I was afoot ^ so not of con- 
sequence enough for Mr. Foster. I turned on my heel, and 
entered the next tavern kept by Michael Herr, an honest 
and obliging German, where I found nothing to make me 
regret my being rejected as a guest at Foster's, except want 
of bed linen, sheets not being generally used in this country 
in the inns, excepting at English ones, or those of fashionable 
resort. A very good bed otherwise, and an excellent supper, 
with attentive treatment, well compensated for that little 

After supper, I received both pleasure and information 
from the conversation of a philosophick German gentle- 
man, an inhabitant of Carlisle, who favoured [32] me with 
his company, and who discoursed fluently on opticks, 
pneumaticks, the French modem philosophy, and a variety 
of literary topicks, evincing great reading, and a good 

Before I retired to rest, I walked to the tavern, where the 
wagons generally stop, and had the pleasure of finding, 
that arrived, which carried my ba^age, which I had not 
seen since I left Lancaster. 


Early Western Travels 


Carlisle is a post town, and the capital of Cumberland 
county. It contains about three hundred houses of brick, 
stone, and wood. The two principal streets cross each 
other at right angles, where there is a market-house, a neat 
brick court-house and a large stone meeting-house. There 
are besides in the town, a German, an Episcopalian, and a 
Roman Catholick church. The streets are wide, and the 
footways are flagged or coarsely paved. Dickenson col- 
lege on the north, was founded in 1783, and was so named 
in compliment to Mr. John Dickenson, formerly president 
of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, and author 
of the Pennsylvania Farmer's Letters, and other writings of 
much merit. It has a principal," three professors, and 
generally about eighty students. It has a philosophical 
apparatus and a library, containing about three thousand 
volumes. It has f^ipao in funded certificates, and the 
state has granted it ten thousand acres of land : [33] On the 
whole it is esteemed a respectable seminary of learning, and 
is extremely well situated for that purpose, in a healthy 
and plentiful country, and about equidistant from the capi- 
tal of the state, and the capital of the United States, one 
hundred and twenty miles from each." 

" By a letter from Mr. Robert Lambeiton. poatnuster at Carlisle, it appears 
DickcnsoD college was burnt down by acddcDtaJ fire, February 3d, 1603, and rebuilt 
in 1804. Doctor Nesbil, a Scotch geutlemau of great learning, and much cele- 
brated for his application to bis studies, and paiticularly for the uncommon icten- 
tiveness of his memory, had been several years president of thb college; he died 
i8lh January, 1804. The Rev. Mr Atwater, from pdiddlcbury, Vermont, took 
his place as prindpaJ at the last commencement, on Wednesday the 37th Septem- 
ber, iSog, and from bis known abilities and piety, we may safely calculate that the 
collie is again in a Sourishiag condition. — Ckamek. 

" Dickenson has had many well known alumni; but after the death of its 6rst 
pRsident, Dr. Nesbit, a period of decline set in, lasting until 1833, when its found- 
en. the Presbyterians, sold it to the Methodists, who have uacc maintained the 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


Different roads to Shippensburgh — Foxes — South moun- 
tain and pine woods — Shippensburgh — Strasburgh — 
North or Blue mountain — Horse valley and Skinner's 

On the 25th January at 8 A.M. I left Carlisle, having 
previously taken an egg beat up in a glass of wine. There 
are two roads, one called the Mountrock road which goes 
from the north end of the town, and the other called the Wal- 
nut-bottom road, which leads from the south end. They 
run parallel to each other about three miles apart. I took 
the latter, which is the stage road, as the wagon with my 
baggage was to go that way, though I was informed that 
the first led through a better country. I found mile-stones 
on the right hand all the way to Shippensburgh, placed at 
the expence of the proprietors of the lands on this road, to 
prove it shorter than the other, they having before been com- 
puted at the equaJ length of twenty-one miles each; but 
now this one is marked only nineteen. The first five miles 
are through a very poor and stony country, thinly inhabited, 
and covered, except on the cultivated parts of the few 
miserable looking farms, with short, stunted, scrubby wood. 
The next seven miles are through a better improved country, 
and a better soil, with large farms [34] and good houses; 
then there are three miles over the northern skirt of the South 
mountain, through gloomy forests of tall pines, with here 
and there a log cabin surrounded by a few acres of cleared 
land, and abounding in children, pigs, and poultry. The 
last four miles unprove gradually to Shippensburgh. 

At eleven o'clock I stopt and breakfasted at a large tavern 
on the right, seven mites from Carlisle, I got coffee, bread 
and butter, eggs and excellent honey in the comb, for which 
I was charged only nineteen cents. My landlord presented 

50 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

me one of the largest and finest apples I had ever seen: it 
was the produce of his own orchard, where he had several 
trees of the same species, raised by himself from the pippin, 
and neither grafted nor budded. He had the manners of a 
New Englandman, being desirous both of receiving and of 
communicating information, but I soon gathered from him 
that he was a native of that part of Pennsylvania, and of 
English extraction. On my entrance he had laid down a 
book, which taking up afterwards, I found to be a volume 
of Robertson's Charles V. 

As I proceeded from hence, two very beautiful red foxes 
playfully crossed the road about a hundred yards before me; 
they then recrossed it, and seeing me, made up a hill to the 
right with incredible swiftness, leaping with ease a Virginia 
worm fence above six feet high. 

At half past four I arrived at Shippensburgh, which was 
laid out for a town, about fifty years ago, and named after 
the first proprietor and settler, the father of judge Shippen 
of Philadelphia." It contains between 150 and 200 strag- 
gling houses, in one street, nearly a mile in length: with 
nothing else interesting to recommend it to notice. I stopt 
at Raume's, a German house about the middle of the town, 
and apparently the best tavern in it. I bathed my feet in 
cold water, and dressed the left one which was [35] much 
blistered and very painful : Soon after which, my wagonner 
Jordan, with three others in his company arriving, we all 
sat down together, according to the custom of the country, 
to a plentiful and good supper; after which, the wagonners 
spread their mattresses and blankets round the stove in the 
bar room, and I retired to a good bed, but without an upper 

ShtppeDsburg in Post's Journals, vol. i of this series, p. 33S, r 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


Monday, 26th January, at half past ten; I proceeded 
towards Strasburgh, in preference to keeping the stage road 
to the left through Chambersburgh," as I shortened the 
road eight mUes in a distance of thirty-eight, to where the 
two roads again met. 

The country to Strasburgh, eleven miles, is well inhabited, 
and the soil is tolerably good ; and the Blue mountains are 
full in front, extending to the right and left as far as the eye 
can reach. Those mountains are not higher than the high- 
lands on Hudson river above New York, about 2500 feet 
perpendicular from the plain below, from which they rise 
abruptly, and the road is seen winding up their side to a 
small gap near the top, which separates from the main 
ridge a pyramidal knob, which, apparently higher [36] than 
the ridge, seems to hang directly over Strasburgh. I met on 
the road, two wagons with six horses each, from Zanesville 
in the state of Ohio, going to Philadelphia for goods: — 
They had been a month on the road. At two miles from 
Strasburgh, I past a direction post on the left pointing to 
Cummins's mills, and at i o'clock I entered that town and 
stopt at Bell's, the last tavern on the left. As there was no 
beer in the house, they had to send for it to Merkel's, a 

" Chambcreburgh U a thriving town, capital of Ffanklin co., Pennsylvania, 163 
miles cast nf Pittsburgh, the mail route, and 11 beyond the Big Cove mountain. 
The Philadelphia and Baltimore mail stages meet here, the former three times a 
week, the latter twice a week, this circumstance, with other advantages, makes 
it a tolerable lively place. It contains about 35a houses, has two paper mills, a 
grist mill in the town, and several others within a short distance, all turned by a 
spring which heads iibaut two miles from the town. An original bank has been 
lairly established here, with a capital of a quarter of a million of doUara, Edward 
Crawford, president, A. Colhoun, cashier. Two weekly papers arc published here, 
one of which is German. It has a number of mercantile houses, and taverns in 
plenty, some of which are well kept, and principally by Germans. The stage- 
master here is a Mr. Davis, formerly of M'Connellstown — He is welt spoken of 
for his attention and politeness to passengera, a very necessary qualification for a 
stage-master. — Craueb. 


5 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

German house. And here it may not be amiss to observe 
that the German taverns on these roads, are generally better 
provided with both liquors and provisions, than the English 
or Irish, but their manners are not the most agreeable, they 
being very inattentive to any of the wants of a traveller, 
except the providing his meals, and the bringing him what 
liquor he calls for. 

It is twelve years since Strasburgh was laid out. It con- 
tains about fifty indifferent houses, and does not seem to be 

At two o'clock, I began to ascend the North or Blue 
mountains, immediately from Strasburgh. — After ascending 
about a mile, I stopped and rested at a hut, the only dwelling 
on the passage over the mountain. Proceeding from hence, 
I was overtaken a little higher up by a man driving before 
him his horse loaded with a bag of wheat. We entered into 
conversation, and he entertained me with his exploits, in 
killing bears," wolves, racoons, and foxes, [37] which abound 
on these mountains, as well as deer, wild turkeys, pheasants, 
and squirrels. I stopped occasionally, to observe the view 
behind me, which though a good deal impeded by the trees, 
is nevertheless very extensive, over a woody country, termi- 
nated by the long range of the South mountain, extending 

" In the New York Medical Rpposiiory, vol. 5, page 343-4, we find the following 
curious fads concerning the mode of generation in the American bear. 

"The singular departure from the common course of nature in the procreation 
of the opossum and the shark, are already known; but the manner in which the 
ftetus is matured by the female bear is not so generally understood. The following 
information was given to Mr. Franklin, senator of the United States from North 
Carolina, by the htinters. This animal bybemates, and, during the winter, retires 
to hollow trees and caverns, but does not become torpid, or sink into the sleeping 
state. Though found often in great numbers on the frontier settlements, and 
frequently killed and eaten by the inhabitants, there has never been an instance 
of a female killed in a pregnant condition, or big with young. The reason is, that 
almost immediately after conception, the fcetus, while shapeless, and resembling 
merely a small animated lump, is excluded from the womb. Thus bom, and ea- 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVest 


from the banks of the Susquehannah below Harrisburgh to 
the S.W. as far as the eye can reach. Though extensive, it 
is however an uninteresting prospect, as though I saw many 
patches of cleared land, the town of Shippensburgh twelve 
miles distant, and Strasburgh directly under me ; — wood with 
its (at this season) brown, sombre hue, is the prevailing 
feature. After ascending a mile and a half from Strasburgh, 
I came to the top of the mountain, and looked down on the 
other side into a dark narrow romantick vale called Horse 
valley, with the two Skinner's good farms, still house and mill, 
and Conodogwinnet [38] creek gliding through the middle 
towards the N.E.; while the middle mountain, rose imme- 
diately opposite me, from the other side of the valley, the 
summit of it apparently not a mile distant from where I 
stood, though in reality it is three miles, so 'much is the eye 
deceived by the depth of the intermediate vale. 

At 4 o'clock, I stopped at Skinner's, where at my particu- 
lar request, I was'gratified with hasty pudding or mush, as 
it is called in this state, with plenty of good milk and apple 
pye for supper. My host was bom near Woodbridge in 
Jersey, from whence his father had removed to this country 
many years ago. There are now about twenty families 
settled in the valley, which extends from the south end 

posed 10 the open air, it has no connection with the teat tike the opossum, nor with 
ao egg like the shark. There is no trace of a placenta nor umbilical vessels. 
The growth of this rudiment of a future bear is supposed to be promoted by ticking; 
and the saliva of the dam, or some other fiuid from her mouth, appears lo afford it 
nouristunent. In the course of time, and under such management, the limits 
and organs are evolved, the surface covered with hair, and the young cub at length 
tendered capable of attending its parent. Thus far the inquiries of the hunters 
have gone. The facts are so curious, that the subject is liighly worthy of further 
investigation. And when the entire liistory of the process of generation in t his 
animal stiall be known, new light will be shed upon one of the most obscure parti 
of physiology. It is to be hoped thai gentlemen whose opportunities are favourable 
to the prosecution of tlus inquiry, will fttniisb the learned world shortly with Che 
whole of these mysterious phenomena.' ' — Ckaker. 

54 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 4 

twelve miles above Skinner's, to a gap in the Blue mountains 
five miles below, through which the Conodogwinnet flows 
from its source at the upper end of the valley, which it 
waters in its whole length of seventeen miles, to join the 
Susquehannah near Harrisburgh, forty miles distant. 

One Wagstaff, formerly an English soldier, who had been 
wounded and made a prisoner at the battle of Monmouth, 
and now a farmer near Pittsburgh, and a lad returning 
home to the same neighbourhood, after assisting to drive 
a herd of a hundred and fifty hogs to Philadelphia, which 
had employed him a month, put up here for the night, and I 
was much amused with the anecdotes of the old soldier and 
my host, who had also been a soldier on the patriotick side, 
during the revolutionary war. They had been opposed 
to each other in several battles, and reminded each other 
of many incidents which happened at them. My land- 
lord was a politician, but his system of politicks and his 
general ideas were completely original. Amongst other 
topicks, Col. Burr's present situation and intentions were 
discussed, when our host gave it as his decided opinion, 
that he had secured [39] the friendship and assistance of a 
warlike and powerful nation of Indians, inhabiting a country 
on the banks of the Missouri about 1500 miles in circum- 
ference, where is the celebrated mountain of salt. That 
they fought on horseback and were armed with short 
Spanish caribines; and that with their aid he meant to 
conquer Mexico, and erect an empire independent of both 
Spaniards and Americans. 

Mrs. Skinner was confined to her bed in an advanced 
stage of a consumption: I recommended her inhaling the 
steam of melted rosin and bees-wax, and wrote directions 
for her accordingly. When I retired to rest, I had once 
more the luxury of clean sheets and a good bed. 


Cuming's Tour to the PVest 


Another traveller — The middle mountain — Fannetsburgh 
— Good effect of hunger in destroying fastidiousness — 
Tuscarora mountain and fine view — Ramsey's — Change 
my mode of travelling — Hull's — Fall from my horse — 
Sideling hill — Coyle's good tavern — Curious scene at 
another tavern — Ray's hill — River Juniata — Bloody 
run — Bedford. 

On the morning of the 27th January, I took leave of 
my friendly host Skiimer, and passing his brothers about a 
mile distant, I was joined by another pedestrian traveller, 
who had left Strasburgh that morning, and had stopped here 
to rest previous to ascending the middle mountain. He 
walked on stoutly, and I limped after him, my foot paining 
me very much. He was a plain countryman from Down- 
patrick in the north of Ireland, who had formerly [40] resided 
near Carlisle, from whence he had removed to the western 
part of the state, where his health having suffered through a 
general debility, he had returned two hundred miles to his 
former residence for medical aid, had remained there since 
the fall under a course of medicine and diet, and his health 
being now re-established, he was again going to the western 

When on the top of the middle mountain about two miles 
from Skinner's, our eyes were regaled with a charming birds- 
eye view of some fine cultivated farms in Path valley just 
below us, with the village of Fannetsburgh of thirty houses in 
the midst, watered by a fine mill stream called the Conogo- 
cheaque in its southerly course towards the Potomack. 

The scenery here reminded me of some of the vales of 
Switzerland, but appetite for breakfast urging me on towards 
the village below, I did not bestow much time in contem- 
plating it. 

56 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

I now proved that "hunger is a good sauce," for I made 
a hearty meal at M'Callum's, spite of a dirty room, a sickly 
woman, and bad tea, which last even when good, I disap- 
prove of, especially for breakfast, but having always had 
coffee hitherto, without ordering it, I had neglected doing 
so now, and I was too hungry and too scrupulous of giving 
trouble to direct or await a change. This was the second 
sickly landlady I had seen amongst these mountains, which 
has impressed me with an idea, that the air is too keen and 
trying for delicate constitutions. 

When I returned into the bar room, from the breakfast 
parlour, if a small dirty room with a bed in it deserves that 
appellation, I found a traveller in it, who had two horses 
at the door, the use of one of which he had offered to my 
fellow pedestrian (who, as he carried provision in a knap- 
sack, had not breakfasted with me,) on condition of his 
being at the expence of feeding him on the road. He was 
[41] just declining the offer as I entered, so I embraced it 
gladly, and the young man agreed to take me up as soon as 
he should overtake me on the road, as he had to await his 
brother who was to accompany him, and I expressed a 
wish to walk before over the Tuscarora mountain, both to 
enjoy the scenery, and to avoid the danger of riding over 
it three miles, with the road in many parts like glass, from 
the freezing of the snow after a partial thaw. I set off vidth 
my former companion, who I had regaled with a gill of 
whiskey, but as I occasionally stopped to admire the beau- 
ties of nature in that mountainous and romantick district, 
he not being equally struck with them, preferred making 
the best of his way, so walked on before, and separated 
from me without ceremony, which I was not sorry for, 
as it left me more at liberty and leisure to proceed as I 

As I ascended, the views of the valley behind were very 

1807-1809} Cuming's Tour to the West 57 

fine, through and over the large heavy pines which cover 
the face of the mountain ; but when near the top, the pros- 
pect to the southward was really sublime, of the valley in its 
whole length that way, finely cultivated and watered, bound- 
ed by distant p)Tamidal mountains, isolated and uncon- 
nected vrith either of the ridges divided by the valley in a 
long vista, about two miles wide. From the summit of the 
Tuscarora ridge, the view to the westward, though extensive, 
was cheerless and gloomy, over a broken and mountainous 
or rather hilly country, covered with forests, chiefly of the 
dark and sombre pine, which would have rendered me 
quite dispirited, if I had not anticipated a speedy journey 
through it on horseback. 

At the western foot of the mountain I stopped at Ramsey's, 
an innkeeper, farmer, saddler and distiller, who has a 
fine farm, and a good house (I mean literally, but not as a 
tavern) ~ It was noon, Mr. Ramsey with a stranger, seated 
himself to dinner, while [42] his wife in the patriarchal mode, 
very common in this country, attended table. I contented 
myself with a tumbler of egg punch, which I had just swal- 
lowed, as my horsemen rode past, calling out that they would 
await me at the distillery, where I accordingly joined them, 
drank a dram of new whiskey with the hospitable dis- 
tiller, mounted my mare, threw away my cudgel, and 
trotted off briskly with my new companions. 

The road was good, but the country broken, thinly in- 
habited and poor; pine woods on each hand — a red gravelly 
soil, and a wretched looking log hut at every two or three 
miles with a few acres cleared round it, but the stumps, or 
girdled trees still standing. We stopped to feed our horses 
at one, about six miles from Ramsey's, which was the resi- 
dence of an old man named Hull, who had removed here 
from Lancaster a few years ago. The large fire, cleanli- 
ness, and air of plenty, which I found within, was the more 


Rarly Western Travels 


enjoyed, from the contrast with the wretched appearance 

On remoiinting, my mare started, and a bag of rye and 
corn for provender which was on the saddle under me, 
falling o£f, I fell with it. One of my companions checked 
his horse suddenly and threw himself off to assist me, and I 
was under both horses' feet for some seconds; but seizing 
the forefeet of the horse from which I apprehended the great- 
est danger, I pulled them towards me, threw him down, and 
at the same time scrambling from under him, I providen- 
tially escaped with only a slight bruise on my left leg, and a 
rent in my pantaloons. My gun which was loaded, and 
which I carried slung at my back, was thrown some distance 
from me without injury. 

We soon after overtook my late foot companion, who I 
believe now regretted that he had not prevented my ride, 
as he seemed a good deal fatigued- We advised him to 
bargain for a ride with a packer with [43] two light horses, 
who we had past a little way behind, and we pushed on to 
a mountain called Sideling-hill, eight miles from Hull's; 
which we ascended a mile, and then put up for the night, at 
a very good tavern, kept by Daniel Coyle, who also onus 
a fine farm between the ridges of the mountain, 

I got an excellent supper alone, my fellow travellers car- 
rying their provisions with them: I had also a good bed 
with sheets, but the pain of my blistered foot, which had been 
augmented by hanging from the saddle in riding, prevented 
my closing my eyes to sleep until three o'clock, when as 
exhausted nature was just beginning to induce a temporary 
oblivion of paui, James Wilson the oldest of my fellow 
travellers called us to horse, as he said, we must this day 
make a journey of upwards of forty miles. His brother 
William, who like myself had never travelled that road 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


before, was obliged to acquiesce, though unwillingly, so 
rather than lose my horse I complied also, and we were on 
the road in half an hour after. 

After riding four miles on a continued ridge of Sideling- 
hill, we stopped at a log tavern to pick up the old soldier 
Wagstaff, whose stories had amused me so much at Skin- 
ner's in Horse valley, and who was a neighbour of Wilson's. 
He had the hog-driving lad still with him, and one horse 
betweemthem which they rode alternately. 

It was not yet day, and the scene in the tavern was, to me, 
truly novel. It was a large half finished log house, with no 
apparent accommodation for any traveller who had not 
his own bed or blanket. It was surrounded on the outside 
by wagons and horses, and inside, the whole floor was so 
filled with people sleeping, wrapped in their blankets round 
a large fire, that there was no such thing as approaching it 
to get wann, until some of the travellers who had awoke at 
our entrance,' went out to feed their horses, after doing which, 
they returned, drank whiskey under [44] the name of bitters, 
and resumed their beds on the floor — singing, laughing, 
joking, romping, and apparently as happy as possible. So 
much for custom. 

About four miles from hence, we descended the western 
side of Sideling-hm mountains, here called Rays-hill, at the 
foot of which we forded the river Juniata, a beautiful 
stream, about sixty yards wide, which after meandermg in a 
wonderful manner through this mountainous part of the 
country upwards of 200 miles, through a space of not more 
than 100 of a direct line, falls into the Susqueharmah about 
twenty miles above Harrisburgh ; in all which distance it is 
navigable for large flat boats, of which considerable num- 
bers are employed transporting the abundant produce of 
those remote regions to the Susquebannah, and down that 

6o Early IVestem Travels [Vol. 4 

river to Baltimore, from whence it finds its way to Europe, 
destined to assist in feeding those countries, which gave 
birth to the ancestors of the cultivators of this. 

After crossing the Juniata, we pursued our road through 
a broken country, very hilly, with the river almost always in 
sight, sometimes on one hand and sometimes on the other, as 
its bends approached or receded from the road, and sometimes 
directly under us at the foot of terrifick precipices, down 
one of which, about twenty years ago, a wagon was carried 
by the horses, falling 3 or 400 feet perpendicular — The 
wagonner and horses were killed, and the wagon was dashed 
to pieces. 

At three miles and a half from the ford, we stopped to 
feed our horses at a small log tavern, where was a large 
family, with three or four very pretty girls, who forfeited 
the admiration they would otherwise have commanded, by 
being covered with the itch, which made me cautious how 
I ordered any thing to eat or drink, although I could have 
done justice to a good breakfast. 

The same kind of country continues to Bedford, [45] the 
road leading through two remarkable defiles between the 
mountains, which as well as the river sometimes approach 
and sometimes recede, the country gradually improving 
both in population and quality of soil as we advanced. 

At three miles from where we fed our horses, we passed 
through a village of a dozen houses, called Bloody run, in 
memory of a massacre by the Indians of about 250 militia, 
while escorting a convoy of provisions to the western frontier, 
soon after Braddock's defeat near Pittsburgh." 

" Jones. History ej Juniata Valley (Philadelphia, 1856) gives a differcnl origin 
for ihe term "Bloody Run." He derives it from the attempt of the inhabitanls, in 
the spring of 1765, to arrest a convoy that was being sent by the Pennsylvania 
authorities to Pittsburg with presents for the Indians. An English officer repotting 
31, said that the creek ' ' ran with blood." ' For the effect of this affair on 
the padficatioD of the Indians, see N'ew York Colonial Documenii, \ii, p. 716. For 
ryof Bedford, see Post's /onmo/i, vol. iof thi3series,p. 140, noteSi. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 

Three miles further, we passed a hamlet of three or four 
houses, called Snake-spring, from an immense number of 
snakes discovered there in a hole and killed; And in four 
miles more, at 11 o'clock, we entered Bedford, crossing two 
bridges half a mile from the town, one over Crooked creek, 
and the other over the west or Raystown branch, which 
uniting a little below, form the Juniata. 

We put up at Fleming's and fed the horses while I break- 
fasted. When ready to proceed, I mounted, but found my 
mare so lame, that I was obliged to remain behind, while 
my companions endeavoured to get her along by driving 
her before them. 

Bedford — Travellers and travelling — Whiskey preferred 
to victuals and necessaries — Obliging disposition of in- 
habitants — A musical and social judge — Departure in 
the stage — The Allegheny mountains — Somerset — 
Good inn — A murder ^ visit to the gaol. 
Making a virtue of necessity, I consoled myself under 
my disappointment, by restoring to my constitution the 
equilibrium of rest, which it was deprived [46] of last night, 
by the anguish of my foot, and the impatience of the elder 
Wilson; I accordingly went to bed, and enjoyed an hour's 
refreshing repose, after which I arose and sauntered about 
the house until supper was announced, which I partook of 
with my civil and attentive host and hostess Mr. and Mrs. 

Soon after supper, five travellers from the N. W. part of 
the state, arrived on horseback, with whom I conversed 
imtil bed time. They were on their way to Baltimore, and 
were plain Irishmen, uninformed of any thing beyond their 
own business, which appeared to be that of packers, or 
travelling merchants, who vend groceries and various mer- 
chandize through the country. 

62 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

The traveUing on these roads in every direction is trulj 
astonishing, even at this inclement season, but in the spring 
and fall, I am informed that it is beyond all conception. 

Apropos of travelling — A European, who had not ex- 
perienced it, could form no proper idea of the manner of it 
in this country. The travellers are, wagonners, carrying 
produce to, and bringing back foreign goods from the differ- 
ent shipping ports on the shores of the Atlantick, particu- 
larly PhUadelphia and Baltimore ; — Packers with from one 
to twenty horses, selling or trucking their wares through the 
country; — Countrymen, sometimes alone, sometimes in 
large companies, carrying salt from M'Connelstown, and 
other points of navigation on the Potomack and Susque- 
hannah, for the curing of their beef, pork, venison, &c.; — 
Families removing further back into the country, some with 
cows, oxen, horses, sheep, and hogs, and all their farming 
implements and domestick utensils, and some without ; some 
with wagons, some with carts and some on foot, according 
to their abilities: — The residue, who made use of the best 
accommodations on the roads, are country merchants, [47] 
judges and lawyers attending the courts, members of the 
legislature, and the better class of settlers removing back. 
All the first four descriptions carry provisions for themselves 
and horses, live most miserably, and wrapped in blankets, 
occupy the floor of the bar rooms of the taverns where they 
stop each night, which the landlords give them the use of, 
with as much wood as they choose to bum, in considera- 
tion of the money they pay them for whiskey, of which they 
drink great quantities, expending foolishly, for that which 
poisons them, as much money as would render them com- 
fortable otherwise. — So far do they carry this mania for 
whiskey, that to procure it, they in the most niggardly manner 
deny themselves even the necessaries of life; and, as I was 
informed by my landlord Fleming, an observing and rational 

1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West 


inan, countrymen while attending the courts (for they are 
generally involved in litigation, of which they are very fond) 
occupy the bar rooms of the taverns in the country towns, 
for several days together, making one meal serve them each 
day, and sometimes two, and even three days — but drink- 
ing whiskey without bounds during the same time. The 
latter description of travellers — the merchants, lawyers, 
&c. travel as in other countries — making use of and paying 
for theu- regular meals, beds, &c. 

The pain of my foot having been much alleviated, by an 
application of bran and vinegar all night, the next morning 
after my arrival in Bedford, I walked out into the town, and 
having occasion to call at some tradesmen's shops, and at an- 
other excellent tavern where the stage from the eastward 
stops, as that from the westward does at Fleming's, I was 
much gratified with the civility and desire to please, which 
I observed throughout, which impressed me much in 
favour of the place, and the impression was heightened 
by another circumstance that forenoon. I had sat down 
to write, and while engaged at it, the bar [48] keeper, 
who had been amusing himself with an octave flute, of which 
I had made a pocket companion, opened the door, and in- 
troduced a gentleman of the middle age, who I supposed to 
be a traveller; but he soon undeceived me, by telling me that 
he had been informed I was fond of musick, and that I had 
a German flute with me, which was also his instrument, 
and he had taken the liberty of calling on me to inform me, 
that there was a musical society in Bedford, of which he was 
a member, and that he would convene it that evening for my 
amusement, if I would assist them by taking a part. I ex- 
cused myself on account of the pain of my foot, and also on 
my flute being an octave. He then hoped a glass of punch 
would be acceptable, which I declined, saying, I never 
drank spirits of any description. There was something 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. , 

perhaps ungracious in my refusal of his proffered civilities, 
for he appeared hurt, and made a movement to depart, but 
I made my peace, and prevailed on him to give me half an 
hour of his company, by observing that although I was a bad 
fellow with respect to the bottle, I nevertheless enjoyed very 
much the society of the well bred and well informed, and 
felt myself much obliged to him for his polite attention. He 
proved to be a man of good theoretick information, but with 
little practical worldly knowledge. From a desire to appear 
to merit the compliment I had paid him, he was particularly 
studious of his language, measuring each word, and weigh- 
ing every sentence before he gave it utterance; — prefacing 
each speech with "If I may be permitted to hazard an 
opinion," — "According to my local ideas," and other 
set phrases to fill up the vacuum, while considering what he 
should next say on the subject under discussion. We talked 
of the country — of robberies — murders and accidents, and 
at last he bade me good morning; setting me down, no 
doubt, as a poor devil without soul, who would [49] not 
drink spirits. On his taking leave, ' ' my name. Sir, said he 

is S it would perhaps be an unwarrantable liberty to 

ask yours," "Not at all. Sir, mine is ." Mrs. Fleming 

afterwards told me that he was one of the associate judges 
of the county, "a very clever and fine spoken man," but 
rather over fond of the universal enemy; — that he had 
lost considerable property, but that his wife's fortune being 
secured to herself, enabled him to still enjoy some of the 
comforts of life. 

This afternoon my wagonner arrived, and went on, ap- 
pointing to be in Pittsburgh on the Friday or Saturday even- 
ing of next week. 

Bedford the capital of a county of the same name, is very 
romantically situated — being hemmed in on all sides by 
low mountains covered with woods except on the north, 

1807-1805] Cuming's Tour to the West 


towards which point is a long vista, so that it has not unaptly 
been compared to a barber's bason, with the rim cut out 
on one side for the chin. It was considered as a frontier 
only about twenty years ago; when some of the stoccado 
which had defended it when it had a garrison, was still to 
be seen." It now contains about 80 houses, of brick, stone 
and logs. It has a court-house, a gaol, and school-house, 
and I was informed that a house is used as a place of worship 
for any Christian sect, and that sometimes a travelling 
minister of one or other of the various divisions into which, 
to its disgrace, Christianity is split, stops to remind the in- 
habitants of their religious duties." 

[50] Apropos of religion. — Asking for a book last night, 
my Ifuidlord sent me Richard Brother's prophecies, with 
which farrago of enthusiastick madness, I read myself to 
sleep. The town is supplied with water from a spring half 
a mile distant, by means of wooden pipes, which conduct it to 
a reservoir in the centre: And some chalybeate springs 
strongly impregnated with sulphur, have lately been dis- 
covered in the neighbourhood; to which, according to 
custom, whether with justice or otherwise, great medicinal 
virtues are attributed." This town was incorporated in 

" Pari ol the log building, which formed Ihe garrison here, and which iv^ 
ticcied by the triops of Geo. III. king of Grcal Britain, still exists, and has been 
newly weatberboardcd lately, and now tonos a kitchen to a tavem. — Crauer. 

" In the summer of 1809, the foundation of a new Presbyterian church was laid 
in Bedford opposite the court-house for the Rev Mr Boyd's congregation, a young 
clergyman of handsome talents, and who had settled here a short time before. — 

" It is perhaps worth while for the sake of a curious and important fact, to men- 
tion the extraordinary effects of the water on a gentleman who had visited this 
spring in the summer of 1B09, and who before he left it, discharged from his bowels 
» living vtonsltr, described by some who saw it, as a titard, by others a crab, with 
legs, claws, &c. and of considerable sine.— Tfce unhappy man had been ill for 
severaJ years, without being able to gel any relief by the aid of skilful physicians. 
Immediately after this, he began to recover, and is now in a fair way of regaining his 

rs known, the water of this spring u 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

1794, and is governed by two burgesses, a constable, a 
town clerk and three assistants. 
[51] The 31st day of January at 4 in the morning, I left 

qualities of at lout thrte of them, viz. The saline, the miphurotu, and the martiai- 
but of the second il is lightly tinctured. Its usual effecta on people in health, axe 
those of an immediate and powerful diurclick, a gentle catharHek, with a consider, 
able increase of perspiration, and sometimes a alight emettck, this last happentDg but 
very seldom. The water may be drank in great quantities with safety, from two to 
thirty half pints, being the usual quantity in the course of an hour before breakfast. 
Some indeed drink hfly half pints, while others are considerably incommoded by 
drinking a gilt, which was the esse with Mrs. Snyder, wife of governor Snyder, 
whose death wa3 lately announced. She was at the spring, August 1S09, but her 
case, which was of the consumptive kind, was loo far gone to admit of recovery. Not 
being able to take the water, she tarried but a few days, and returned to Lancaster 

with her companion. Miss 

The following Latin poem written by James Ross, teacher of the languages in 
the Philadelphia academy, formerly of Chambersburgh, and author of an eicstlent 
grammar, with its iranslatioa in prose by the Rev. Mr. Willson, teacher of the lan- 
guages in Bedford, descriptive of this spring, and the quality of its waters, &c. 
trill be read with pleasure. 


Hos versiculos symbolum amidtiE inscribit, 



Monte decurrens, velul amnis, alto, 
Fons, loquai nunquam, tacitus recedis, 
Abditus tcnis, catebrasque celans 


Non alis campos virides vel agros; 
Non greges pasds, vitulosque vaccas; 
Non tUEC ripK genetant teones 

Dente furentea. 
Sed tuas undas celebrant Puellz, 
Femulf et Matrcs, Puerique Sponal, 
Has Senes undas adamant Anusque 

Ore bibcotes. 
HIsque gaudentes Homines levabunt 
Pectoris morbos, capitis dolores; 
Aurium sensus, latecumque poenas 

Sepe lavando. 
Has bibant isti quibus est podagra; 
Has quibus tussis mala, nee f Uganda 
Artibus, cura aut Medici pcriti; 

Nam que levabunt. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 67 

Bedford in the stage with three gentlemen and a young 
girl passengers. It had snowed all night, [52] and the 
ground was covered some inches deep, so we had to proceed 

Quin et aSicti, ac oculisque lumbis 
Has bibanl undas, stomacho dolentea; 
Pauperis, dites, recreentque coipus 
Sepe bibendo. 

Has bibont undas vacui, salubrcs; 
Nil DoccDt salus Puerisve Nymphis: 
Pauperes muld hzc, simul atque ditea, 
Dicere poraunt. 

BedCordise, {PennsylvBDonim) quarto ( 
Kal. Seplembres, AD. 1809. ! 

Bedjoti Galeae. 

Tc John Anderlon, M. D, Ike joUmiring Versil arc iiueribed, al a token 0) Friend- 
ship, by the Author James Ross 

From the base of a lofly mounloJD issuing, O fountain, thy profusion of wateis, 
thou sendest forth in silence, from thy fountain, deep in earth's womb embowled, 
them mingling with the stream, which murmurs below, thou loosest. No verdant 
plains, nor verdani fields are oourished by tby stream irriguous. Nor flocks, nor 
younglings of the herd dost thou with food supply. To 00 prowling beasts of 
prey, do thy shady, thy romantick banks, afford shelter or refuge. Sena, blooming 
*irsiii> 88y> macrons old, and aged sires, and youths lately in wedlock joined: 
greatly delight to saunter along thy streams; and, in the coot rejreihing shade, to 
quaff thy healing waters. 

White, with heaitfcll satisfaction, the valetudinarian, in the waters of this foun- 
tain, laves himself, the diseases of the breast — the pains of the head — the dis- 
tresses ol the side — and deafness, which prevents the ear from drinking in the rich 
melodies 0/ musici, all shrink from the healing efficacy of the healthful element. 
Let those drink whom the gout torments, and those whom the distressing cough 
sonoys, diseases, which yield not to the an or care of the physician, however learned. 
In drinking, they certain aid shall find. The hiunble cottager, and wealthy lord, 
however ireakencd by disease shall re-invigorate their systems, by drinking these 
waters. Tender eyes shall regain their strength — lost powers of digestion shall 
again return — and the enfeebled loins, with new strength be girded. Let the 
MDS of lebure, and votaries of amusement, on these health preserving waters regale 
themselves. The vigorous young man, and the rosy cheeked, from them receives 
DO barm. Rich and poor innumeroug, can well attest the truths t sing. 

Ibid. — Craues. 

68 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

slowly to break the road, crossing the West branch of the 
Juniata twice in the first three miles. As day dawned, the 
country appeared to be in general rather better settled and 
cultivated than on the eastern side of Bedford, but it was 
still very hilly, and wood was the prevailing feature. At 
half past 10, we had reached the foot of the Allegheny 
[53] ridge, where we breakfasted ; and here I found one of 
the advantages of travelling in the stage, was to be charged 
a sixteenth of a dollar more per meal, than if one travelled 
in any other way. 

We were now in Somerset county, and having changed 
stages, horses, and drivers, we ascended by a very easy 
road of one mile to the top of the highest ridge of land in' 
the United States, to the eastward of which all the rivers 
flow to the eastward, to empty themselves into the Atlantick 
ocean, while to the westward, they flow westerly to unite 
with the Mississippi, which is their common aqueduct to the 
gulph of Mexico." 

The face of the country before us now changed for the 
better; not being broken as to the eastward, but fine exten- 
sive levels and slopes, well inhabited and cultivated; and 
the ridges of hills, though long, not so steep, and finely 
clothed with heavy wood. This was the general appear- 
ance of the country, until we arrived at Somerset, the capi- 
tal of the county, 14 miles from the top of the Allegheny 

This is a new town, having been laid out and built within 
twenty years: It contains about seventy tolerably good 
houses, with a court-house, where upstairs, is the present 
place of worship, common to all sects like Bedford, until a 
church, which is to be in common also, is erected, for which 

"The Allegheny Ridge is in fact but twcniy-five hundred £«t in height. The 
WUte Mountains of New Hampshire and the Cumberland Mountains of North 
Carolina and Tennessee exceed it in altitude, — Ed. 

1S07-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West 69 

the town has petitioned the assembly to enable them to 
raise $3000 by lottery. 

We stopped at Webster's excellent, comfortable, and well 
furnished inn, where we found good fires, a good supper, 
and a series of the Baltimore Daily Advertiser. 

Since I had come over the three mountains between 
Strasburgh and Ramsay's, the principal subject of conver- 
sation along the road, was concerning the murder by two 
Frenchmen of a Mr. David Pollock, on the 23d of this 
month, on Allegheny mountain. [54] They had shot him, 
and when he fell in consequence from his horse, they dragged 
him off the road into the wood, and stabbed him with a 
knife in several places. He was soon after discovered dead 
by a company of packers, who had seen two men but a 
little while before, and had heard soon after, the reports of 
a double barrelled gun carried by one of them. This, and 
the meeting of a horse with a saddle and saddle-bags, and 
no rider, gave them a suspicion, and induced them to search 
in the wood, following the tracks of men from the road into 
the wood, to the body. After returning to the road they 
again saw the two men whom they suspected come out of the 
woods before them. They pursued them, but lost sight 
of them at a turning in the road, where they again took into 
the woods. The packers rode on to the next house and 
gave an alarm, which soon mustered the inhabitants of the 
neighbourhood, who arming themselves, went in pursuit 
of the murderers. One of them resisting, when discovered, 
was shot, and the other apprehended, and lodged in Somer- 
set gaol. 

I had been informed that the prisoner neither spoke, nor 
understood English, and that since his apprehension, he 
had no interpreter with him, except a German farmer, who 
understood French but badly. Impelled by humanity, I 
asked my landlord to accompany me to visit him. He was 


Early Western Travels 


a poor, ignorant, abject, pusillaniinous wretch of the name 
of Noel Hugue, and had lately arrived in America from 
Marseilles, where he had been a tralteur or cook. He 
denied the murder or any knowledge of it, but his story was 
inconsistent and dissatisfactory. On my informing him of 
the motives of my visit, he was very grateful. I advised 
him to write to any persons at New York or Philadelphia, 
where he had staid some time after his arrival, who might 
have it in their power to send him any testimonial of charac- 
ter; [55] and, as I thought his case desperate, to write to his 
friends or connections in France, and that the court before 
which he would be tried, or whatever lawyer was charged 
with his defence, would forward his letters. On my return 
to the inn a Mr. Leiper, a young gentleman just called to the 
bar, requested me to accompany him to the gaol, to inter- 
pret between him and the prisoner, as he intended volun- 
tarily to undertake his defence, although it was so unpopular 
as not to be unattended with personal danger, in the irritated 
state of mind of the country. I complied with his request, 
but from the interview, I had no reason to expect his humane 
attempt would be, or ought to be successful." 

Proceed on journey — Political parties — Laurel-hill — 
Chesnut-hills — Greensburgh — Bad road ~ Fine pros- 
pect — Pittsburgh. 

The ist February at 4 A. M. I left Somerset in a sleigh, a 
good deal of snow having fallen the day before. One of 
the gentlemen and the little girl having quitted the stage, 
my companions now were only a Mr. M'Kinley, of West 

" This man was hung at Somerset after April court, 1807. He positively 
denied to the last of having an; knowledge of the crime for which he was about \a 
suffer death. He also declared his companion, who was shot in taking him, inno- 
cent, and as having no knowledge of the drcumitaiice of the death of Pollock. — 

i8o7-i8o()] Cumiag's Tour to the West 71 

Liberty near Wheeling in Virginia, one of the representatives 
in the state assembly, returning home from Richmond, and 
a Mr. Archer of Centreville in Ohio, returning home also, 
from a circuitous voyage and journey to New Orleans [56] 
and Baltimore; during which he had visited the Havanna, 
and New Providence in the Bahamas. — As we all possessed 
some information different from each other, we beguiled 
our journey by conversation pleasantly enough, except 
when politicks were introduced, on which, my fellow travel- 
lers being of opposite sentiments, I was sometimes under the 
necessity of starting some new subject, to prevent their being 
wrought up to an irritation of temper, which not only pre- 
vented cool argument, but sometimes in spite of my en- 
deavours to the contrary, arose to such a height as to nearly 
approach to personalities. 

Politicks, throughout the whole of this country, seems to 
be the most irritable subject which can be discussed. There 
are two ruling or prevailing parties; one, which styles itself 
Federal, founded originally on the federal league or con- 
stitution which binds the states to each other; in contradis- 
tinction to a party which attempted to prevent the concur- 
rence of the states to the present constitution, and after 
it was agreed to, made some fruitless attempts to disor- 
ganize it, and was called Antifederal. The opposite party 
is one which has since sprung up and styles itself the Demo- 
cratick Republican. Since the federal constitution has 
been established, the first party exists no longer except in 
name. That which assumes it, stickles for the offices of 
government being executed with a high hand, and is there- 
fore accused of aristocratick and even of monarchick senti- 
ments by its opponents, who in their turn are termed fac- 
tious, and disorganizers, by the federalists. They nickname 
each other Aristocrats and Democrats, and it is astonishing 
to what a height their mutual animosity is carried. They 


72 Early JVestem Travels [Vol. 4 

are not content with declaiming against each other in con- 
gress, or in the state legislatures, but they introduce the 
subject even at the bars of the judicial courts, and in the 
pulpits of the places of religious worship. In some places, 
[57] the males who might otherwise be on terms of friend- 
ship with each other, are, merely on account of their diver- 
sity of sentiment on politicks, avowed and illiberal enemies; 
and the females carry the spirit of party into their coteries, 
so far as to exclude every female whose husband is of a 
different political opinion, however amiable, and ornamental 
to society she may be. The most illiberal opinions are 
adopted by each party, and it is sufficient with a federalist 
that another man is a republican, to pronounce him capable 
of every crime; while the republican takes care not to allow 
the federalist the smallest of the attributes of virtue. — Their 
general difference of opinion, at last becomes particular, and 
a mistaken point of honour frequently hurries the one or the 
other maniack into a premature grave.— The political wheel 
is kept in constant motion by those two parties, who monopo- 
lize it to themselves, to the exclusion of the moderate, well 
disposed, and best informed part of the community; who 
quietly pursue their several avocations, lamenting at, yet 
amused by the bickerings, disputes and quarrels of the 
turbulent and ambitious leaders of the parties, and their 
ignorant, prejudiced and obstinate tools — satisfied with 
the unexampled prosperity they enjoy as a people and a 
nation — and equally watchful perhaps to guard against 
tyranny or licentiousness, with the violent and avowed op- 
ponents of both. 

After travelling seven miles through the glades, a rather 
barren and thinly settled plain, we crossed a bridge over 
Laurel hill creek, a mile beyond which we began to ascend 
Laurel hill, which we continued to do two miles further to 
Evart's tavern, where we breakfasted. Six miles more, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


brought us to the beginning of the descent westerly, there 
being several settlements on each side the road between the 
ridges of the mountain in that distance. From this point we 
had an extensive view as far west as the eye could [58] reach, 
over and beyond Chesnut hills. After descending two 
miles, we crossed Indian creek at the foot of the mountain. I 
now remarked that the woods were much thicker, and the 
trees larger and taller, than the same species to the east- 
ward. A mile from Indian creek, Mr. M'Kinley pointed 
out one of the finest farms between Philadelphia and Pitts- 
burgh, owned by one M'Mullen, an Irishman. 

At 10 A. M. we changed horses and our sleigh for a stage- 
wagon, two miles from M'Mullen's, at M'Ginnis's, perhaps 
the dirtiest tavern on the whole road. We then continued 
ten miles over a very broken hilly country, with rich valleys, 
crossing a high ridge called Chesnut hills, from whence 
the western country is spread out under the view, like an 
immense forest, appearing flat from the height we were 
at, though it is in fact, as we found it, very hilly. We 
crossed the river Sewickly, a fine mill stream, by a bridge, 
ten miles from M'Ginnis's, and eight miles further we ar- 
rived at Greensburgh, the capital of Westmoreland county, 
which we had entered at the eastern foot of Laurel hill. 

Greensburgh is a compact, well built, snug little town, 
of about a hundred houses, with a handsome court-house, a 
Presbyterian meeting-house, and a market-house.'* 

On entering Habach's tavern, I was no little surprised to 
see a fine coal fire, and I was informed that coal is the prin- 
cipal fuel of the country fifty or sixty miles round Pittsburgh. 
It is laid down at the doors here for six cents a bushel. 

After supper we were joined by a Mr. Holly, a doctor, 
and another gentleman, residents of the town, according 

" For an account of Greensburgh, see Micliaux's Travelt, vot. iii of this series. 


Early Western Travels 


to the custom of the country, where the inhabitants are in 
habits of collecting what information they can from travel- 
lers. We had a long poHtical discussion, originating on the 
subject of Col. Burr's projects; and amongst the six present, 
there [59] were no two who agreed in sentiment. Indeed, in 
this country every man thinks for himself, or at least he 
imagines he does, and would suppose himself insulted, was 
another to attempt openly to bias his opinion; but notwith- 
standing this supposed liberty of sentiment, superior talents 
when united to ambition, seldom fail of drawing the mass 
after them. The conversation of this evening was both 
amusing and instructive; some of the party, particularly Mr. 
HoCy, a New England man, being possessed of very good 
information, and the arguments were conducted with cool, 
dispassionate reasoning. 

About 8 o'clock, the landlord, who was a German, came 
into the room and offered to light us to bed: My fellow 
travellers complied, but I told him I should sit up two hours 
longer. The old man repeated my words, "two hours," 
shrugged up his shoulders and went off, while I literally 
kept my word, amused by a series of three or four of the 
last Baltimore Federal Gazettes. On going to bed, and 
finding the bed clothes very light, I added the covering of 
another bed in the room to mine, which I left so m the morn- 
ing as a hint to the house. 

At five o'clock next morning, we resumed our journey, 
and found very little snow on the road, though there was so 
much on the mountams behind us. 

The aspect of the country is similar to what it is between 
the Laurel hills and Greensburgh. Hills running in ridges 
from north to south, heavily wooded with white oak, walnut, 
sugar tree and other timber natural to the climate; and the 
valleys narrow, but rich and all settled. 

At eight miles from Greensburgh, we passed on our right 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 75 

an excellent house and fine farm of a Col. Irwin, one of the 
assistant judges; and three miles further we stopped to 
change horses and breakfast at [60] Stewart's, where we 
were charged only a quarter of a dollar each.. 

We soon after entered Allegheny county. The weather 
was cold and clear, and very pleasant for the season, but 
the country afforded no variety, being still, hill, dale, woods, 
and scattering farms. At nine miles from Stewart's, we 
descended a very long and steep hill, by a shocking road, 
crossed Turtle creek at the bottom, which runs to the south- 
ward to join the river Monongahela, 12 miles above its 
confluence with the Allegheny; we then ascended another 
hill by an equally bad and dangerous road. It is astonish- 
ing that in so fine and so improving a country more atten- 
tion is not paid to the roads. A turnpike is projected from 
Pittsburgh to Harrisburgh, which I am clearly of opinion, 
might be kept in repair by a reasonable toll; — and then 
wagons with goods may travel between the two places in a 
third less time than they do now, and without the present 
great risks of breaking down, and the mails may be deUvered 
at the post-offices one half sooner. 

When about seven mQes from Pittsburgh, we had a pic- 
turesque view of the Monongahela on the left, which was 
soon hid again by the intervening hills; and when within 
three miles of that town, the view was beautiful over the 
fine low cultivated level, or bottom, as it is called, which 
skirts the river Allegheny from thence to Pittsburgh, which 
is seen at the confluence of that river with the Monongahela; 
beyond which, the high and steep coal hill crowned by a 
farm house most romantically situated, seems to impend 
directly over the glass manufactury, on the bank of the 
river opposite the town. 

The last two miles was along the fine level above men- 
tioned, passing on the right, between the road and the 

■jt Early Western Travels [Vol. 4. 

Allegheny, the handsome seat of Mr. John Woods, a re- 
spectable lawyer;" and immediately after, [61] we passed 
Fort Fayette, a stockaded post on the right'" — entered 
Pittsburgh, and put up at Wm. M'CuUough's excellent inn. 

Unprepossessing appearance of Pittsburgh — Causes — 
Comfortable situation — Abundance of coal — M'Cul- 
lough's inn — Confinement there by indisposition — Atten- 
tion of some of the inhabitants — Memoirs of an uncom- 
mon character — Apollonian society — Dramatick societies 
— Lawyers — Clergymen — State of society injured by 
politicks and other causes — Physicians. 

/The appearance of Pittsburgh in the winter, is by no 
means pleasing) notwithstanding its fine situation, /as, none 
of the streets oeing paved except Market-street,'^ ihey are 
so extremely miry, that it is impossible to walk them without 
wading over the ankle, except during frosty weather, which 
rarely continues many days successively, from its lying so 
low, and being so well sheltered, by the surrounding hillsj 
This, though unpleasant now, is in reality in favour of the 
place, as when the streets are all paved, that inconvenience 
will be obviated, and the advantage of shelter from the 
bleak wintry winds will still remain, without its being fol- 
lowed by an exclusion of fresh air during the summer, as the 
rivers, at that season act as ventilators, a refreshing breeze 
always drawing up or down one of them, increasing [62] 

* John Woods was one of the two first lawyers in Pittsburg, being admitted to 
the bar from Allegheny County in 1786. He represented the dty in Congrexa 
from 18:5-17.— Ed. 

" For Fort Fayette, see Michaim's Trm/ets, vol. iii of this series, p. 31, note 
12.— Ed. 

" Since the above was written the greater part of Wood street has been paved. 
Front and Ttiird streets from Market to Wood, Diamond alley gravelledi and 
Chancery lane paved from the river to Second street, and preparations are making 
10 pave others this season, iSio. — Cramer. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 77 

with the elevation of the sun until noon, and then gradually 
subsiding into a calm towards sunset; while at a little dis- 
tance from those air conductors (the rivers) even in high 
situations, an oppressive heat not rarified by the most gentle 
zephyr, prevails during the same time. 

Another cause of the unprepossessing appearance of 
Pittsburgh, proceeds from the effect of one of the must useful 
conveniences and necessaries of life, which it enjoys in a 
pre-eminent degree; namely, fuel, consisting of as fine coal 
as any in the world, in such plenty, so easily wrought, and 
so near the town, that it is delivered in wagons drawn by 
four horses, at the doors of the inhabitants, at the rate of 
five cents per bushel. 

A load of forty bushels which costs only two dollars, will 
keep two fires in a house a month, and in consequence, 
there are few^houses, even amongst the poorest of the inhabi- 
tants, where at least two fires are not used — one for cook- 
ing, and another for the family to sit at. [This great con- 
sumption of a coal abounding in sulphur, and its smoke 
condensing into a vast quantity of lampblack, gives the 
outside of the houses a dirty and disagreeable appearance — 
even more so than in the most populous towns of Great 
Britain, where a proportionably great quantity of coal is 
used; which must be caused by a difference of quality, which 
appears in the grate to be in favour of the coal of this countr^) 

The winter being too far advanced for boats to descend 
the Ohio, I preferred remaining in Pittsburgh, until I should 
have an opportunity of continumg my journey to the west- 
ward by water, to going on immediately by land, as I wished 
to see the banks of that celebrated river, as far as it lay in my 

I therefore became a weekly boarder and lodger at M'Cul- 
lough's, which though an inn much frequented by travellers, 
I found to be as quiet, as regular, [63] and as orderly, as any 


Early Western Travels 


private lodging house; the beds equally cleanly, the table 
more plentiful, and the charge as moderate. As M'Cul- 
lough lays himself out to accommodate travellers, or regular 
lodgers, he applies himself solely to that, and discourages 
every thing which might subject his house to the noise, 
revelry, and confusion of a tavern. His wife an amiable 
and obliging woman, and three daughters, fine and good 
girls just grown up, attend to the business of the house, and. 
the accommodation of their guests, so well, that a man must 
be fastidious to a fault, who would not be perfectly satisfied 
with such quarters. 

The streets being extremely dirty, and my foot still paining 
me much from the consequence of its being blistered on my 
journey between Lancaster and Middleton, I confined my- 
self to the house for several days after my arrival, going out 
only once during that time, to call on general O'Hara** and 
Mr. Abner Barker on business. Confinement is at any 
time unpleasant; but at an inn, however good the accom- 
modation, in a strange place, without a single acquaintance, 
and suffering continued torture from an inflammation in a 
limb, the pain of which would have prevented my enjoying 
a book, even had there been a library within my reach, was 
to me excessively so. 

A few neighbouring gentlemen hearing that a stranger 

" General James O'Hara embarked in the Indian Irade near Fort Pitt about 
1773. On the outbreak of the Revolution, he enlisted in the ninth Virginia regi- 
ment, but was soon employed as quartermaster, also serving in that capacity in 
the Whiskey Insurrection (179J), and Wayne's Campaign against the Indiam 
(1794)' His business talents and enterprise were employed in building up the new 
town of Pittsburg, where at its inception he bad purchased much land. In 1797, 
he built the Grat glass manufactory west of the Alleghcnies; about the same time 
he made arrangements to itanspott salt by water from Onondaga, New York, 
greatly cheapeiung the price of that necessity. In 1804, O'Hara was made director 
of the brancJi of the Bank of Pennsylvania established at Pittsburg; and on his 
death {1S19) left a large estate to his heirs. General O'Hara was generous and 
patriotic as well as enterprising. He was a friend of Washington, and served 
as elector when the latter was chosen president in 1788. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 79 

was at M'CulIough's confined by indisposition, did me the 
favour of calling on me, and the attentions of doctor Andrew 
Richardson, Mr. James Mountain, a learned practitioner at 
the bar, and Messrs. Anthony Beelen and Nicholas Cun- 
ningham respectable merchants, prevented my being able 
to charge Pittsburgh with an absolute want of hospitality. 
The two former offered me the use of their judiciously 
selected libraries, when I should become sufficiently conva- 
lescent to go out, and the perusal of any of their books in 
the interim, and the first supplied [64] me with the Philadel- 
phia and Baltimore newspapers as they arrived by post, twice 

A few evenings after my arrival, the daughters of my host 
had a numerous party of young people of both sexes to 
spend the evening and practice vocal musick under the 
directions of a Mr. Tyler who had taught them. They 
displayed taste and harmony enough to do honour to their 
venerable teacher, and I was tempted to join the sounds of 
my flute to the sweet treble of some of the young ladies. 
This led to a degree of confidence to me from Mr. Tyler, 
who on retiring to bed in the same room, imparted to me 
his little history, which though not replete with incident, 
was singular and affecting, exhibiting generous benevolent 
simplicity, a victim to vice and ingratitude. He was an 
Englishman, and had been one of the choristers of a cathe- 
dral in England from whence he had emigrated to America, 
when a young man. He had exercised his talent in teaching 
sacred musick, in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, until 
he had acquired a sufficiency to purchase a farm in the 
neighbourhood of Carlisle, where he and his wife settled. 
They were childless — an infant foundling which they 
chanced to see, impressed them with the idea of supplying 
themselves with what nature had denied them. They took 
the boy home, adopted him as their son, and spared neither 

Early Western Travels 


pains nor expence to give him the best education the country 
afforded. He grew up a most promising youth, and bid 
fair to reward them for their parental cares, by smoothing 
their decline of life, with a return of those attentions which 
they had lavished on him from his helpless childhood. The 
lad was a good accomptant, and was placed with a store- 
keeper in Carlisle, until he was supposed by his benefactors 
sufficiently versed in business, to manage for himself. 
Tyler then expended the savings of many years industry to 
furnish for him a respectable country store. The young 
[65] man commenced business with the fairest prospects, but 
he had unfortunately contracted habits of drinking and 
gambling. His business was neglected, one loss followed 
another, but he had the art of still imposing on the unsus- 
pecting simplicity of his blindly partial and generous patron, 
until he prevailed on him to be his security for larger sums 
than his remaining stock of goods would pay. He then 
absconded, his creditors sued the old man, who to save 
himself from prison was obliged to dispose of his farm, and 
after paying the debts of the ungrateful prodigal, with the 
very small sum which remained to him, he and his wife last 
year at upwards of sixty years of age each, crossed the 
mountains, at an inclement season, and purchased a small 
tract of land about seven miles from Pittsburgh, on which 
he has since erected a cottage, and where he has cleared and 
cultivated a few acres, and to enable himself to make his 
payments, he has taught sacred vocal musick in this town 
and the surrounding country these two successive winters. 
His enthusiasm for vocal harmony, and his innocent unsus- 
pecting simplicity, untainted during a long life, by worldly 
craft, and still believing the mass of mankind as honest and 
virtuous as himself, notwithstanding the trying proof he 
had experienced of its baseness, rendered him a singular 
and original character; I say original, for I much question, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 8 1 

whether any person into whose hands these sheets may fall, 
can turn his eye inwardly, and exclaim with a conscience 
void of offence and selfishness, I too am a general philan- 
thropist, like the good old English singing master. 

Several musical amateurs are associated here under the 
title of the Apollonian Society. I visited it by invitation at 
the house of Mr. F. Amelung the acting President, and was 
most agreeably surprised to hear a concert of instrumental 
musick performed by about a dozen gentlemen of the town, 
with a degree [66] of taste and execution, which I could not 
have expected in so remote a place. I was particularly as- 
tonished at the performance on the violin of Mr. Gabler, 
a German, employed at Gen. O'Hara's glass house, and who 
is one of the society. His natural talents for musick were so 
great, that he could not bear the trammels of a scientifick 
acquisition of it, and therefore never learned a note, yet he 
joins a correct extempore harmony, to the compositions of 
Hayden, Pleyel, Bach, Mozart and the other celebrated 
composers, particularly in their lively movements; he is 
not quite so happy in his accompaniments of Handel, or of 
grand or solemn musick generally. His execution of Waltz's 
is in a sweet and tasty style, and he has composed by ear 
and committed to memory several pieces, which impress 
the hearer with regret, that they must die with their author. 
Indeed he now (when too late) regrets himself, that he had 
not in his youth, and when he had great opportunities, 
added science to natural taste. 

The Apollonian society is principally indebted for its 
formation to the labours of Mr. S. H. Dearborn," a New 
England man, who came here about a year ago, to exercise 
the profession of a portrait painter, and being a very versa- 
tile genius, and having some knowledge of, and taste for 

" Son of Mr. Benjamin Dearborn, of Boston, much celebrated for his mechanic 
cal and inventive genius. — Cramsk. 

8 2 Early IVestem Tranjels [Vol. 4 

musick, he soon discovered all the respectable people who 
were harmoniously inclined, and succeeded in associating 
them into a regular society, which meets one evening every 
week, and consists not only of those who can take parts, 
but also of many of the most respectable inhabitants of 
the town, who do not play, but who become members, for 
the sake of admission for themselves and families to the 
periodical concerts. 

There are also two dramatick societies in Pittsburgh, [67] 
one composed of the students of law, and the other of re- 
spectable mechanicks. They occasionally unite with each 
other in order to cast the pieces to be performed with more 
effect. The theatre is in the great room of the upper story 
of the courthouse, which from its size, and having several 
other contiguous apartments which serve for green room, 
dressing rooms, &c. is very well adapted to that purpose. 
It is neatly fitted up under the direction of Mr. Dearborn, 
whose mechanical genius has rendered him a useful asso- 
ciate of the disciples of Thespis; whether as machinist, 
dresser, scene painter and shifter or actor; particularly 
in the part of the garrulous Mrs. Bulgruddery in John 
Bull, which he performs with much respectability. Mr. W. 
Wilkins*" excels in genteel comedy; Mr. Johnston does 
justice to the part of an Irishman; Mr. Haslet to that of a 
Yorkshire farmer or country squire; Mr. Linton in low 
comedy is the Edwin of Pittsburgh, and Mr. Van Baun would 
be an ornament to any established theatre, either in the 
sock or the buskin, he being equally excellent in Octavian 

"William Willdns, at Ihis time but a young lawyer, afterwards became dis- 
tinguished in American political circles. He served as state and federal judge 
from i3zo-2S; three years later he was elected to the United States Senate; and in 
1834, was sent by President Jackson as minister to Russia. Wilkins was in Con- 
gress again in iS4>; and when Upshire and Gilmer were killed (1844), President 
Tyler appointed bim Secretary of War. — £t>. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 8 3 

as in Fribble. The female characters being sustained by 
young men, are deficient of that grace and modest vivacity, 
which are natural to the fair sex, and which their grosser 
lords and masters vainly attempt to copy. On the whole 
however, the dramatick societies, exhibit in a very respec- 
table manner, a rational entertainment to the inhabitants 
of Pittsburgh about once monthly through the winter. 
They have hitherto confined themselves to the comick 
walk, but I have no doubt, that if they appear in the buskin, 
they wUI do equal credit to tragedy. 

Some of the gentlemen of the bar resident here, are very 
respectable in the profession of the law. Mr. Ross, for- 
merly a senator, and set up in unsuccessful opposition to 
Mr. M'Kean, for governor of the state, is an orator of the 
first abilities — his oratory [68] being clear, intelligible and 
impressive." Mr. Mountain, to deep learning, adds careful 
investigation of the cause of his client, and is apt and happy 
in his quotations. Mr. W. Wilkins is by nature an orator. 
His person, action, and gesture are favourable to him — his 
words flow at will in a style of manly and bold oratory which 
commands attention. — He has no occasion to study his 
periods, they form themselves — he enters in earnest into 
the cause of his client, and rarely fails to give it its full 
weight — but perhaps he sometimes works himself up into 
too great warmth of language, which may be occasioned by 
the glowing impulse of youth operating on a fertile fancy — 

" James Rosa was one of [he most eminent of Pittsburg's eatly lawyers. Bora 
in 1761, be was admitted to the bar in 1791. and Itirce yeajs later chosen to 611 
out Gallatin's term in the United States Senate, wherein by re-election he served 
until 1S03. Ross was a staunch Federalist, and ran three times unsuccessfully 
upon that ticket for governor of Pennsylvania, twice (1799 and tSoi) against 
McKean. Although a Federalist, he had sufficiently imbibed Western views to 
advocate, while a senator, the forcible seizure of New Orleans from the Spaniards. 
After retiring from politics (1803), be practiced law until his death in r847, being 
conaiclered (he leader of the Pittsburg bar. — Ed. 

84 ^rly Western Travels [Vol. 4 

he apparently not exceeding twenty-five years of age. Mr. 
Addison," Mr. Semple, Mr. Woods, Mr. Baldwin, and 
Mr. Collins" are spoken of as very able practitioners, but 
as I had not the pleasure of vi^itnessing their exertions at the 
bar, I cannot take it upon me to describe their talents, even 
was I adequate to it. 

There are five societies of Christians, which have each 
an established minister — Mr. Steele" the pastor of one of 
the Presbyterian societies, possesses all that liberality of 
sentiment and Christian charity inculcated by the divine 
founder of his religion, and dignifies the pulpit by his clear 
and pleasing exposition of the scriptures. Mr. Taylor the 
Episcopal minister, is an able mathematician, a liberal 
philosopher, and a man of unaffected simplicity of manners. 
His discourses from the pulpit are good moral lectures, well 
adapted to the understanding of his hearers. He is an 
assistant teacher in the academy. Of Mr. Boggs," the 
minister of the other Presbyterian society, [69] or of Mr. 
Black, the minister of a large society of a sect of Presby- 
terians called covenanters, I am not adequate to speak, not 
having yet heard either officiate. Mr. Sheva,** pastor of 
a congregation of German Lutherans, is a man of liberal 
morality, and a lively social companion. There are here 

" Since dead. — Ckauer, 

" Cuming haa here given a summary of the noted members of the Pittsburg bur 
at the time of his viait. Steel Semple made s specialty of land cases, and had great 
influence with juries. Henry Baldwin was afterwards distinguished in politics, 
serving in Congress 1S17-13; seven yeat^ later be was appointed to the supreme 
court of the United States, wherein he served until his death in 1846. Thotnas 
Collins was an able and successful lawyer, with high social connections. For a 
slcetch of Judge Addison, see Harris's Jtmmal, vol. iii of this series, p. 363, note 
46.— Ed. 

" Mr. Steele died March 31, 1810.— Craueb. 

" Removed to near Fredericksburgh, Virginia. His place has been filled by the 
Rev. Mr. Hunt, who officiates 10 the second Presbyterian congregadou. — Craicbx. 

" Removed to St. Louis, Louiainna. — Ckameb. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


several Roman Catholicks,'^ Methodists," and Anabaptists 
— who have as yet no established place of v?orship, but 
who occasionally meet to profit by the exhortations of some 
of their spiritual directors, who travel this way. On the 
whole, the religious sects appear to be more free here than 
in most places I have visited, from those illiberal and anti- 
christian prejudices, which render Christianity the scoff of 
even the ignorant Indians, whom we term savages. 

But though difference of religious opinions does not cause 
any animosity here, politicks have reduced society to a 
most deplorable state. There are two parties, which style 
themselves Federal republicans, and Democratick repub- 
licans, but who speaking of each other, leave out the word 
republican, and call each other Federalists and Democrats. 
I have already described their opinions, which are argued 
with more warmth, and are productive of more rancour and 
violence in Pittsburgh than perhaps in any other part of 
America." There are very few neutrals, [70] as it requires 
a bold independence of sentiment, to prevent a person from 
attaching himself to one or other party, and besides, to a 
man who has not resources for the employment of time 
within himself, the alternative of not being of one or other 

" The Catholidcs have lately erected a small but handsome brick church of 
one story ■■ the north coat end of Liberty street, the ground for which, I understand, 
was gratuitously presented to them by Gen. O'Haia. The inside work of the 
church is fEt in an unfinished state. — Cbaveb. 

" The Methodists are now engaged in collecting a voluntary subscription tor 
either the building, or the purchase of a house tor the use of their society. — Ckameb. 

" Our author was here at a time when politicks ran high the colouring he has 
given the rancour, in consequence, among the inbabilaots, may be a httle too deep. 
Be tliis as it may, party politicks, or at least, political rancour, has subsided, and 
the citizens generally, intermingle in social societies, and interchange the various 
offices of friendship and of trade without interruption, however they may diSer to 
political senlimeni, or be opposed to each other in the election of the various can- 
didates to publick office. Conceiving, perhaps, that a moderate difference of 
political opinion, is a natural consequence of our political institutions, and a requisite 
to their exiatence in the purity in which they were at first established. — Ceuuiek. 

86 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

party is insupjwrtable, as he is shunned equally by both, 
and in this populous town lives with respect to society, as 
though he were in a desert. This may be one cause that 
Pittsburgh is not celebrated for its hospitality, another, 
(which is equally applicable to most new settled towns,) 
is that it is inhabited by people who have fixed here for the 
express purpose of making money. This employs the 
whole of their time and attention, when they are not oc- 
cupied by politicks, and leaves them no leisure to devote 
to the duties of hospitality. Another cause, which one 
would scarcely suspect, is pride. Those who from the ad- 
ventitious circumstance of having settled here at an early 
period, and purchased, or became possessed of landed 
property, when from its very low value, it was obtained in 
the most easy manner, for a mere trifle, now find themselves 
rich suddenly, from its rapid increase in value. Those who 
came after them, had not the same opportunities, and of 
course were not so fortunate. Wealth acquired suddenly, 
generally operates on the ignorant, to make them wish to 
seem as if they had always been in the same situation ; and 
in affecting the manners and appearance of the great, they 
always overact their part, and assume airs of superiority 
[71] even over the really well bom and well bred part of the 
community, who have been reduced from a more affluent 
situation, by misfortune, or who have not been so fortunate 
as themselves in acquiring what stands the possessor in lieu 
of descent, and all the virtues and accomplishments. This 
accounts for the pride which generally pervades the fortu- 
nate first settlers, but it is carried to such extravagant ex- 
cess, that I have been credibly informed that some of the 
females of this class have styled themselves and their families 
the Well horn, to distinguish them from those not quite so 
wealthy, forgetting that some among them could not tell 
who had been their ancestors in the second generation. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 87 

This is all matter of ridicule and amusement to a person 
possessed of the least philosophy. There is also a very 
numerous class, which assumes a certain air of superiority 
throughout this whole country — I mean the lawyers. 
They (even their students and pupils) arrogate to themselves 
the title or epithet of esquire, which the uninformed mass of 
the people allow them; and as, by intrigue, they generally 
fill all the respectable offices in the government as well as the 
legislature, they assume to themselves a consequence to 
which they are in no other way entitled. 

The profession of physick is also on a very respectable foot- 
ing in this town. There being four established physicians. 
— Doctors Bedford, Richardson," Stevenson, and Mowry," 
all of considerable practice, experience, and reputation." 

I shall defer an account of the situation, history and 
present state of Pittsburgh, until I have finished [72] my 
tour to the westward, when I shall have obtained more 
information on so important a subject. 


Departure from Pittsburgh — The Allegheny, Monongahela, 
and Ohio rivers — Brunot's island — unfortunate death 
of two gentlemen — Baldwin's mill — Neville's island — 
Middletown — Logstown — Beaver creek — Beaver town 
— Fort M'Intosh. 
On the i8th July, 1807, accompanied by my intelligent 

and valuable friend A , I departed from Pittsburgh, in 

*• Died, August 1809. — Cramer. 

" Of these early Pittsburg physidans, Dr. Nathaniel Bedford came out as a 
turgeoo in the British army, and located here in 1765; his colleague, Dr. Stevenson, 
arrived about the same lime and later served as a Revolutionary soldier. Dr. 
Mowry entered the office of Bedfoid as an apprentice (1786), attended lectures 
under Dr. Rush at Philadelphia, and attained Ugh rank in his profession. — Ed. 

" There are three others established here lately, a German, a French, and an 
English phyHcian, the latter of whom b of ihe Friends' society, of the name of 
Pennington, considerably advanced in years. He came to this place in the fall of 
iSog, and is said to be skilful.— Crauer. 

Early Western Travels 


a batteau, or flat bottomed skiflr, twenty feet long, very 
light, and the stem sheets roofed with very thin boards, high 
enough to sit under with ease, and long enough to shelter 
us when extended on the benches for repose, should we be 
benighted occasionaUy on the river, with a side curtain of 
tow cloth as a screen from either the sun or the night air. 
We had a pair of short oars, or rather long paddles, for one 
person to work both, and a broad paddle to steer with; 
and a mast, and a lug or square sail to set when the wind 
should favour us; we had a good stock of cold provisions 
and liquors. The river being neither flooded, nor very low, 
was just in that state, to promise a pleasant passage to its 
navigators. The current running between two and three 
miles an hour, allowed time to examine every thing worthy 
of curiosity, and the water was sufficiently high to prevent 
delays through grounding on any of the numerous flats, 
which impede the navigation of the first two hundred miles, 
during the principal part of the summer and fall, and yet 
not so high as to prevent our being able to see and remark 
all the shoals or rocks of any consequence, which gave us an 
opportunity [73] of proving Mr. Cramer's Navigator which 
we had with us, of correcting it in a few places, and of 
adding to it a sketch of the river, in its very winding course, 
between Pittsburgh and Limestone or Maysville, in Ken- 

In a quarter of an hour after embarking on the Mononga- 
hela we passed its confluence with the Allegheny, and entered 
the Ohio formed by the other two. 

The Allegheny rises between two and three hundred 
miles following its different meanders, N. E. of Pittsburgh. 

" The Navigalor or Trade's uselul Guide la Navigating the Manongahcla, 
Alkgheny, Ohio and 3Si3iissippi Rivers . . . was published by Zadok Cramec at 
Pittsbuig — the same house that produced Cuming's Wtslem Tour. Cunung 
doubtless had the fifth edition, issued in 1806. The woric was useful and popular, 
and tan through twelve editions. — ED. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVesi 8g 

Its current runs about three miles an hour except in 0oods, 
when it is sometimes impelled at the rate of six or seven. 
Its banks were uninhabited except by the aborigines, and a 
line of distant posts fortified by the French, to preserve the 
communication by this route between Canada and Louisiana, 
previous to the conquest of the former country by the British 
in 1759; also to prevent the extension of the Anglo American 
settlements to the westward of this river; and to command 
the friendship and trade of the Indians; and to prevent as 
much as possible the Enghsh from participating with them 
in those advantages. Within the last twenty years, the 
Indians disliking the extension of the American settlements 
into their neighbourhood, have abandoned this whole tract 
of country, and have retired to Sandusky, about three hun- 
dred miles further west, with the exception of a tribe under 
a celebrated chief called the Complanter, which has a town 
and settlement near the Allegheny about 120 miles fr6m 
Pittsburgh,*' and which is gradually falling into an agricul- 
tural life." 

"The fonoer villages of the Sbawneet and DeUwBRS in the vicinity of Fitu- 
burg were removed at the close of the French end Indian War to the neighborhood 
of the Muskingum. 

Complanter, the chief of a large band of Senecas, was for many years a much 
dreaded hostile. He is known to have been with the French at Braddock's defeat; 
later, influenced by the British agents, he took pari in the massacre at Wyoming 
and in many border raids. Brodhead led out an expedition in 1779, which burned 
the towns of this chieftain; and at the dose of the Revolution, becoming imptessed 
with the growing power of the Americans, the wily warrior professed peace, assisted 
in securing the treaties of Fort Stanwii (1784) and Fort Haimor (1789), and hod 
an interview with Washington in 1790. Hia professions secured him a large reser- 
vation in the present county of Warren, Pennsylvania, where he lived quietly until 
his death in 1836.— Ed. 

* In 1798, the Quakers of Philadelphia sent out a committee of three or five, 
men and women, among the Complanlera Indians, with implements of husbandry, 
to iostntcl the poor natives in the arts of agriculture sod comfortable living, tn 
these, with much good example, industry, and perseverance, they have succeeded 
wonderfully in bringing their red brethren to a considerable advanced stat* of 
dvilizaCion, to a koowledge of agriculture, the mechanick arts, and a practice of 
the sodal virtues. I had the pleasure of conversing with Jotl Swain, one of the 


Early fVestem Travels 

[Vol. 4 

[74] The Europe-American settlements (as I call them 
from their consisting principally of emigrants from Britain, 
Ireland, and Germany, particularly the two latter) now 
extend not only to the banks of the Allegheny, but crossing 

members of the commitlee nol long since, who observed, thai the farms of the natives 
extended several miles on both banks of the Allegheny river, well stocked vrilh 
cattle, horses, and hogs. That one or two of the Indians had already learnt how 
to make their own plough4rons, axes, hoes, 81c. while others were learning to inakc 
tubs and buckels, and that he expected to learn an ingenuous boy to make spinning 
wheeb the ensuing year, for which he was then hunting irons. Thai a lanyard 
was about to be sunk for the purpose of teaming them the art of tanning. That 
the Indian women had spun and wove about seventy yards of flaxen linen that year, 
iSoS, and was able to knit their own stockings. That they, the committee, bad got 
both men and women to quit the habit of drinking whiskey, or any other kind of 
ardent spirits, either at home or abroad — This drcutnstance has been frequently 
witnessed among those who came down to Pittsburgh with skins, trading, and who 
uniformly refuse iiihiskty when oSered to them by those to whom they sell their 
skins, shaking their heads, saying, kto scos, too scoi, meaning, not good, repeating 
in broken English, "may he scos, good, for white man, bul too scos, bad, for Indian." 
The Quakers of Baltimore, under the same Christian, and highly laudable 
spirit, sent out in 1805, a deputation among the Shav/atitese, Dclaisarts, and 
WyoTtdots, and such other tribes as they could 6nd it practicable to visit, to see 
what might be wandng to forward the inierests and happiness of the natives, to 
some of whose tribes they had forwarded a tew articles of farming utenuls in 1798, 
particularly to those situated on the banks of the Tuskarowas river; since which, 
ploughs, hoes, axes, &c. have been forwarded to Fori Wayne as presents to the 
Indians on the Wabash, where considerable clearings and improvements have been 
made under the particular direction of Philip Dennis, agent of the Friends' 

The Western Missionary society are also laudably engaged in this Christian 
like work, and we hope and flatter ourselves, thai much good will be done, and the 
poor natives be advanced to a slate of rational life. The Rev. Joseph Badger 
resides on the Sandusky, where no doubt his indefatigable industry will be turned 
to the best advantage for the welfare of the Indians in that quarter. He has one 
farm already stocked with cattle, &c. a tolerable crop was raised last year — and a 
school is kept to teach the children the English language. Divine service is also 
held among them frequently, where men, women, and children attend, to receive 
the instruction of their worthy pastor. Mr. Badger was among us not long ago, and 
be gives a flattering account of the aptness of the Indian children, and their will- 
ingness and desire for learning, and states that they do not want for capacity. — 
~^\a subject opens a wide £eld for the humane and philosophick citizen, and we 

t the minds of many wiU be drawn to pay it that attention it so richly 

its. — Ckahek. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour lo the Pf^est 


that river, the country has become [75] populous, and many 
thriving towns have been erected throughout the whole 
country south of lake Erie, not only in Pennsylvania, but in 
the adjoining new state of Ohio, which latter has been 
settled in that tract, by emigrants from the state of Con- 
necticut," to whom Pittsburgh is indebted for a good supply 
of cheese*' not inferior to English. 

£he navigation of the Allegheny is easy for boats called 
keels from fifty to seventy feet long, sharp at both ends, 
drawing little water, carrying a good burthen, and calcu- 
lated to be set against the stream, so as to surmount it from 
eight to twenty miles a day in proportion to the strength of 
the current operating against th^^ The water of this 
river is uncommonly clear, occasioned by its gravelly bottom 
and the rapidity of its current ; and the fish are harder, firmer, 
and more delicious, than those caught in the Monongahela, 
which rising in the Laurel mountain in Virginia, pursues 
a northern course about two hundred miles, (the last half 
of which is through a rich and populous country) until it 
unites with the Allegheny at Pittsburgh. Flowmg generally 
through a more level country than the Allegheny, its current 
[76] is much more placid, but its waters are always muddy, 
from which circumstance it derives its name, which in the 
Indian dialect signifies mttddy jrom the mouldering in of 
banks. Both it and the Alleghany abound in fish, of which 

" This refers to the Western Reserve, often called New Connecticut. By the 
terms of her charter, Connecticut claimed the land nest of her bounduries to the 
Mississippi; upon her cession of this claim to Congress (17S6), she reserved a 
tract of 3,150,000 acres on the shores of Lake Erie, in which settlement was begun 
(1796) at Cleveland. In 1800 this reserve was surrendered to the United States. 
and finally incorporated in the slate of Ohio,— Ed. 

" It is not an uncommon thing for some of our New Connecticut fanners to 
make from two to three tons of good cheese in one season, for which they generally 
gel at our market twelve cents per pound. — Crameb. 

92 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

the white salmon, the perch, the pike and the catfish are most 
esteemed ; there are however several other species." 

The Ohio into which we had now entered, takes its name 
from its signifying bloody in the Indian tongue, which is 
only a modem appellation bestowed on it about the begin- 
ning of the last century by the five nations, after a successful 
war, in which they succeeded in subjugating some other 
tribes on its banks." It was called by the French La belle 
Riviere, which was a very appropriate epithet, as perhaps 
throughout its long course it is not exceeded in beauty by any 
other river. It was always known before as a continuation 
of the Allegheny, though it more resembles the Mononga- 
hela, both in the muddiness of its waters, and its size: the 
latter being about five hundred yards wide, whereas the 
former is only about four hundred yards in breadth opposite 

Leaving the glass house on the left, we passed on the 
same hand Saw-mill run, a mill stream with a long wooden 
bridge crossing it to Elliot's mills, the bridge forming a 
handsome object in the view. Elliot has here a delightful 
spring, bubbling its cool pelucid water from the side of the 
rocky bason which receives it, from which it is conveyed by 
a pipe through his spring-house, the roof of which joins the 
shed which covers the spring. 

We passed Robinson's point on the right with a fine 
level, or bottom, as I shall in future according to [77] the 
language of the country call all the flats between the hills 
and the banks of the river. This bottom well settled and 

" Such as lie sucker, sturgeon, buflaloc, roissouri, eel, hemog, and sometimes 
(he flai soft tbellctl tunic are caught — The branches of the Allegheny, especially 

French nerli.. iit^und in fine imiii — ChAMek. 

" 1 vJdT in his signification of the term "Ohio," 

■hi. -. - nridgc's CauUt Publications (Carlisle, iSo6). 

Botli . - A' a^ree that the word Ohio signifies "beauti- 

i8o7-i8og] Cuming's Tour to the West 


cultivated, extends to about four mUes below Pittsburgh, 
having Brunot's island opposite its lower extremity. This 
island contains near three hundred acres of a most luxuriant 
soil, about half of which has been cleared by Dr. Brunot, 
a native of France, who adds hospitality and sociality to 
the abundance which he derives from his well cultivated 
farm.** He has judiciously left the timber standing on the 
end of the island nearest Pittsburgh, through which, and a 
beautiful locust grove of about twelve acres, an avenue from 
his upper landing is led with taste and judgement about half 
a mile to his house, which is a good two story cottage, with 
large bams, and other appropriate offices near it, and an 
excellent garden and nursery. He has fenced the farm 
in such a way, as to leave a delightful promenade all round 
it, between the fences, and the margin of the river, which he 
has purposely left fringed with the native wood about sixty 
yards wide, except where occasional openings are made 
either for landings, or views, the latter of which are very 
fine, particularly that of M'Kee's romantick rocks opposite, 
impending over the narrow rapid which separates them from 
the island. M'Kee's fine farm between the rocks and the 
mouth of Chartier creek, and the creek itself, which mean- 
ders through a great part of the rich and plentiful county 
of Washington, affording also fine subjects for the landscape 

" Dr. Felix Brunot was a foster brother of Lafayette. Embaiking in the 
latler's enterprise to aid the American colonists, he served efficiently in the Revo- 
lution, especially at the battle of Brandywine. At the dose o£ the war he settled 
at Annapolis, Maryland; but in ^^Jg^ removed to Pittsburg, where he devebped the 
island estate which Cuming describes. Dr, Brunot died in 1838; his descendants 
have be«n equally public-spirited — his grandson, Felix Brunot, being an eminent 
Pittsburg philanthropist. — Ed. 

" The original owner of the farm from which McKee's Rocks took their name 
was the notorious Tory Indian agent, Alexander McKee. This tract he bought of 
Bouquet in 1 764, and lived upon his property until the outbreak of the Revolution. 
McKee had (177a) been appointed by Sir William Johnson, deputy for Indian 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

On entering the channel to the right of Brunot's island, I 
could not avoid a sensation of melancholy, from its remind- 
ing me of the death of my valued friend George Cochran, 
esq. of Natchez, who about three years ago was drowned here 
together with a Mr. M'Farlane of Elizabethtown, by the 
skiff, in which they were going from the shore to a brig be- 
longing to the latter, being carried by the current [78] against 
the brig's cable, and overset. In his death, his friends had 
cause to lament the loss of a warm hearted, benevolent, 
generous, and properly conducted man in every sense of the 
word, and the world was deprived of one of those characters, 
which is occasionally but rarely allowed it, to prevent that 
general obloquy to which it would otherwise be subjected 
from the natural depravity of mankind. 

I was not acquainted with Mr. M'Farlane, but from the 
manner in which I have heard him spoken of by those who 
were, he merited a longer enjoyment of this probationary 
life. They were found two days after, a few miles below, 
brought to Pittsburgh, and interred in two adjoining graves, 
in the burying ground of the new Presbyterian meeting-house. 

affairs, and was listed by Lord Dunmore (1775) as one whose loyalty to the British 
could be relied upon. He became, therefore, an object of suspicion to his neigh- 
bors, and General Hand, commandant at Fort Pitt, placed him upon parole. The 
night of March sS, 1778, McKee with Matthew Elliot and Simon Girty, broke his 
parole and Bed to the British at Detroit. There he was rewarded with a captaincy, 
and employed in leading Indian raiding parties against the American settlements. 
After Hamilton's capture (177S) he was made Indian agent for the Western de- 
partment, and throughout the Revolution, and the entire period of Indbn wars, 
his influence with the savages was exerted lo maintain their enmity to the Ameri- 
cans. After the battle of Fallen Timbers (1794), Wayne burned the store-house 
and goods of McKee at the Maumee Rapids, the renegade having himself retired 
to Detroit, where he received a letter oi commendation from the governor-general 
of Canada, and promotion in the British service. When the latter evacuated 
'^■'fMt (1756), McKee tcdred to Sandwich, where he continued his official duties 
tib (January 14, 1799). Hts services had been rewarded by large 
on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, upon which his descend- 
d themselves. His Pittsburg property passed into the hands oE a 
; descendants were living thereon in 1S47. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 95 

Passing his garden, we gave and received an adieu from 
Dr. Bninot, and the recollection of a social and agreeable 
day, which I enjoyed with a party at his house on the 4th 
of this month, when he had a few friends to commemorate 
that anniversary of a new era in the annals of history, the 
Independence of the United States of America, aided to 
dispel those gloomy, selfish ideas, which we who remain be- 
hind can seldom avoid mdulging, when we think on our 
being for ever deprived of society which was dear to us — 
even though we have every reason to be certain that they 
were prepared for whatever fate may await them in futurity, 
and though we know that longer continuance here, might 
have subjected the subject of our regret to some of those 
casualties in the affairs of men, which might have embittered 
their future life. 

The course of the river is generally about N. N. W. from 
Pittsburgh to Beaver, about twenty-eight miles. We con- 
tinued to descend it, our attention occupied by frequent 
changes of prospect, caused by its winding course. From 
the point below Brunot's island, is a fine vista of the river 
with hills on the right and [79] a bottom on the left; a very 
high hill in front cultivated on the top, Baldwin's mill on 
the right three miles distant, reflected by the water to double 
its size; the well frequented road to Beaver on the same 
hand, and farms and farm houses in view of each other; 
the scenery enlivened by multitudes of fish sporting near 
the surface of the glassy element. Baldwin's mill-house is 
well built of stone over a dam in the river, which conveys 
the water to the wheel, from whence it runs out under the 
arch which supports the house. 

We had passed a small island of about three acres, called 
Cow island, separated from Neville's or Long island by a 
channel of one hundred and fifty yards. This latter takes 
its name of Long from its extending six miles down the 

g6 Ear/y Western Travels [\"ol. 4 

river from opposite Baldwin's mill, it is narrow, but its 
soil being of the first quality, it might be divided into several 
good farms; there is however but one on it as yet, cultivated 
for the proprietor, major Craig of Pittsburgh, who has on 
the middle of the island a large but very plain wooden 
farm house of two stories, and about sixty feel long." 

We here overtook a covered flat, with two families of 
the name of Frazey, migrating from the neighbourhood of 
Elizabethtown in New Jersey, to Cincinnatti in Ohio. They 
had embarked at Redstone on the Monongahela." The 
father of one of the families was dangerously ill with a 
nervous fever and deranged in his intellects. 

Hog island on the left just below Neville's island, is 
very small, and immediately below it also on the left we 
passed Middletown, lately laid out, containing ten houses 
including bams, and opposite to it, a Mr. White's finely 
situated house. 

From a point two miles below Middletown, the river 
opening gradually into a long reach, has a fine effect to 

" Major Isaac Craig was one o[ the most promincDt of the eari; dtizens of 
Pittsbuig. Coming from Ireland lo America in 1766, he seltlol at Philadelphia 
as a caipenter, and beiog commissioned 6jst lieutenant of marines (1775) took 
part in the expedition to the West Indies. His command was later transferred to 
the infantrr and then to the artillery branch of the service, wherein Craig was 
wounded at Brandywine, and performed gallant services in Sullivan's Indian Cam- 
paign. Etaving taken conunand of Fort Pitt in 1 780, he was ordered the next year 
to reinforce George Rogers Clark with stores and artillery for an expedition to 
Detnut. This proving abortive. Craig continued at Pittsburg, strengthening its 
defenses, and securing it against attack. In 1783, he bought the ti%\. land sold 
within the dty of Pittsburg, and shortly formed a partnership for general business 
with Cokuiel Bayard, a Revolutionary officer. During the Indian campaigns 
Craig acted as military storekeeper, forwarding provisions to Wayne, and erecting 
defensive woiks at Pittsburg (Fort Fayette), Wheeling, and Presqu' Isle; but as 
a noted Federalist he was removed (1801) by JeSetson from official position. 
Major Craig also aided in preparations for the War of T813-15, but at its close 
retired to Neville's Island (his wife's property) and resided thereon until his death 
in 1816.— Ed. 

" For B sketch of Redstone, see Michaux's TravtU, vol. iii of this series, p. 158, 
note 33. — Ed. 


Cuming's Tour to the West 


the eye. A little below the point, a charmingly situated 
farm on the right exciting our inquiry, [80] we were informed 
that it was squire Ways. The squire however, was badly 
lodged, if he had no better house than the small log hovel 
we saw on the bank. Deadman's island a little below is 
small, covered with aquatick shrubs and plants, and so low, 
that it must always be inundated in moderate risings of the 
river, which is not kere more than a hundred and fifty yards 
wide, and in general not exceeding two hundred. The banks 
on each side abound with partridges whose responsive calls 
are continually heard, interrupted by the buzz of multitudes 
of large horse flies, which probably attracted by the odour 
of our provisions, seemed much more pleased with our boat 
than we were with them. 

Eight miles below Middletown, we passed Logstown on 
the left : This is a scattering hamlet, of four or five log cabins, 
in the neighbourhood of which, on the opposite side of the 
river, a considerable tribe of Indians resided, until after the 
reduction of Fort Du Quesne, now Pittsburgh, by general 
Forbes in 1758." 

From Logstown a mile and a half to Crow's island which 
is small, the banks are very pleasant, rising gradually from 
the water's edge, and having a fine bottom on the right. 
Here we met two large keel boats loaded with cotton in 
bales, from Nashville in Tennessee bound to Pittsburgh, 
out twenty-six days. They had nine men in each ~ one 
steering, six poling, and two resting. 

Half a mile from hence on the right, is a good log house 
with a sign of a white horse, kept by James Knox ; in passing, 
it, a young woman answered several questions we asked her 
very civilly; which I mention as a rare circumstance, as the 
inhabitants of the banks of the Ohio, have too generally 

" For a sketch of Logstown, see Weiscr's Journal, vol. i of this series, p. 14, note 

17.— Ed. 

98 Early tVestem Travels [Vol. 4 

acquired a habit, of either not deigning an answer to the 
interrogatories of the numerous river travellers, or of giv- 
ing them a short and boorish one, or of turning [81] their 
questions into ridicule; vs^hich proceeds from the imper- 
tinent manner in which they are generally hailed and ad- 
dressed by the people in the boats. 

Two miles lower we passed a good house and a saw-mill 
in a beautiful rural situation on the left bank, and here we 
met a decent looking man, polling a skiff against the current: 
He was going to Pittsburgh and had come upwards of 
twenty miles since moroiDg. 

At half past four in the afternoon we were abreast of 
Big Beaver creek or river on the right, five miles below the 
saw mill. It empties through a level, and is about fifty 
yards wide at its mouth, with a gentle current. 

Some boys on the beach mischievously misinformed us 
respecting the proper landmg, to the town of Beaver, which 
is but a little way beyond the creek, instead of which we 
rowed a mile lower down, and then had to set our skiff across 
a bar, which extends above a mile in front of the right bank. 
After landing, we had to climb a precipice to a log cabin, 
on the top and edge of the cliff, near two hundred feet above 
the surface of the river: Here we got directions for our 
path, and after a walk of half a mile, we reached the town 
of Beaver. 

It stands on a stony plain on the top of the high cliff which 
conceals it from the river, and contains about thirty indiffer- 
ent houses, much scattered, on three parallel streets. There 
is a stone gaol not quite finished, which was the only publick 
building we noticed." The inhabitants not finding water 
at a convenient depth, have, in preference to digging very 
deep wells, led it by wooden pipes from a hill near a mile 

** A small brick cnarket-house bss been since built, and after many trials, a 
well sunk from which Ihe inhabitants are supplied with water.— Cbaicek. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


from the town, and have placed publick wooden fountains 
in the streets at convenient distances. 

[82] We were shewn the scite of Fort M'Intosh, of which 
no vestige remains except the hearth of the officers' fire 
place: It is on the edge of the cliff commanding the river. 
Altogether, Beaver seems to be very badly situated on the 
high plain, when it ought to have been placed at the con- 
fluence of Beaver creek with the Ohio, where there is a bot- 
tom with room enough for a town, and an excellent landing, 
and where are now two good looking houses with tavern 
signs. The neighbouring high situation notwithstanding 
its inconveniences, was probably preferred, on account of 
the superior salubrity of the air." 

On entering Beaver, we refreshed ourselves with six 
cents worth of whiskey and water at general Lacock's tavern. 
He is one of the representatives in the assembly of the state, 
and has both considerable influence and abilities. I had 
heard him in the house of representatives when I was at 
Lancaster in the winter, and was much entertained by the 
wit and humour he displayed in the course of a debate on 
fixing a permanent seat of government." We had not 

" With legard (o the Indian towns at the mouth of the Big Beaver, see Weiser'i 
Journal, vol. i of this scries, p. 36, note )J. 

The present (own of Beaver was laid out in 1752, and eight years later made 
the county town for the newly-ereclcd Beaver County. Fon Mcintosh was a 
Revolutionary post erected (1778) by General Lachlin Mcintosh, who had been 
chosen lo succeed General Hand at Fort Filt. It was the &rst military post in the 
Indian territory beyond the Allegheny and Ohio rivers. An important Indiao 
treaty was held at this place in 1784; but four years later the fort was demolished, 
the erection of lower posts on the Ohio having rendered it superfluous. — Ed. 

" The career of General Abner Lacock is illustrative of the ability and force 
ol character thai rendered so many pioneers eminent. Of Virginia birth, he had 
but slight education, migrating lo Washington County, Peansylvania, at an early 
age. When the town of Beaver was erected he bought some of the first lots, and 
served as justice of the peace as well as tavern-keeper. His eoUy into gencTKl 
politics was signalized (1801) by election lo the Pennsylvania assembly, and in 
tSoS he was chosen state senator. National affairs claimed h'm when elected 
United States Senator (1B13), in which position he championed internal improve- 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol, 4 

the pleasure of seeing the general now, and proceeded from 
his house to Mr. WQson's, one of the best in the place, con- 
formably to a promise I had given him in Pittsburgh. Mrs. 
Wilson, a very pretty woman, told us that her husband was 
absent in Philadelphia: — We left our names, walked across 
the street to Hemphill's tavern, got some information respect- 
ing the country; and then returned to our boat, meeting on 
our way the constable crying at publick sale, a poor horse 
attached for debt, for which the last bid was thirteen dollars 
twenty-five cents. It is seven years since Beaver was laid 
out for a town. 

Thunder storm — Hospitable reception at Potts's — George- 
town — Little Beaver creek — State division line — Fau- 
cetstown — Croxton's — Squire Brown's. 

A FERRY two miles below Beaver is a handsome situation, 
beyond which the banks are high on both sides, and the river 
does not exceed one hundred and fifty yards wide. 

About half past seven, it began to rain with heavy thunder 
and sharp lightning. We huddled into the stem under the 
awning, and I sculled with one oar to keep the boat in the 
channel, in hopes of getting to Georgetown; but the storm 
increasing, we judged it more prudent to stop at nine o'clock 
where we saw a light on the left bank. We were received 
very hospitably in their small log house by Mr. and Mrs. 
Potts." Our landlady gave us bread and milk, which after 
changing our wet clothes, we supped on sumptuously. We 
then made some milk punch, which our landlord partook 
of with us with great gout, entertaining us with some good 

mcnts and popular education. Having incurred the resentment of Jaduon bjr 
his services on the committee to investigate the Seminole War, his reticement 
ensued; whereupon he relumed to Beaver, whose citizen he remained until hU 
death in 1837.— Ed. 

" The creek at this place is sttU known as Potis Run.— Ed. 

1807-1809I Cuming*: Tour to the finest 1 o i 

songs, and long stories about his travels. Time thus passed 
away while the storm pelted without, and it was not until 
eleven o'clock that we stretched ourselves on the floor, 
with our feet to the fire, and enjoyed a good nap, resisting 
the kind importunities of the Potts's to take their own bed, 
their other one being filled with their five children. And 
here I must remark that throughout this whole country, 
wherever you see a cabin, you see a swarm of children. 

At six o'clock on Sunday morning the 19th July, we left 
Potts's, after having recompensed them for their hospitality. 
This was ten miles below Beaver, and two and a half above 
Georgetown. There are three small islands in that dis- 
tance called First, Second, and Grape island. 

[84] I landed at Georgetown on the left, which contains 
about thirty houses in a fine situation, on a narrow plain 
extending from the high river bank, to the hills which sur- 
round it like an amphitheatre. Though it is a post town, 
and a considerable thoroughfare of travellers, it is neverthe- 
less on the decline, there being only twenty-five houses 
inhabited." A shower coming on, I took shelter in the 
house of a very communicative elderly man, whose wife 
was young and very handsome, though an half blood Indian. 

Little Beaver creek*" nearly opposite to Georgetown, is a 

** Georgetown was [ounderi in 1793 by Bcnoni OanMB of Maryland, who 
named il in honor of the city of that name, now in the District o( Columbia. It 
is "a prosperous-looking, sedate town, with tidy lawns running down to the edge 
at the icmcc," See Thwaites, On the Storied Ohio (Chicago, 1903).— Ed. 

" This is a valuable stream for water works, though wildly and romantically 
hemmed in by vast hills on both sides. There arc two grist mills, a saw mill, and 
a large paper mill, all within two miles of its mouth; the latter has been lately 
erected, and is owned by Jacob Bowman of Brownsville, John Bever of George- 
town, and John Coulter, who resides at the mill. Over this creek, about a mile 
from its mouth, a new toll bridge was erected in the summer and fall of 1S09, on the 
road leading from Washington county lo New Lisbon, Canton, Worster, Sic. state of 
Ohio. About a mile above Little Beaver, in the bed of the Ohio, and near the 
north western aide, a substance bubbles up, and may be collected at particular 
times on the surface of the water, similar to Seneca oil. When the water is not too 

Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

handsome little river, about thirty yards wide; half a mile 
below which, we saw the division line between Pennsylvania 
and Virginia on the left, [85] and between the former and 
Ohio on the right, which were cleared of wood forty feet 
wide in their whole length some years ago; a new growth 
of trees, bids fair to obliterate very shortly these temporary 

Near this on the left bank opposite a small island, is a 
curious stratum of slate, covering a substratum of coal, 
which also shews itself. 

A mile below this is Custard's island, a mile long, opposite 
the lower end of which on the left, is the very pleasantly 
situated house and farm of Mr. Stewart, in passing which 
we were asked by some people at the landing, if we had seen 
a man polling up a skiff yesterday on his way to Pittsburgh, 
and they pointed out his house on the opposite bank, which 
he had left yesterday; which was matter of astonishment to 
us, how the man we hailed in this skiff above Beaver, could 
have surmounted so many ripples and rapids in so short a 
time ; it evinced uncommon strength, activity, and persever- 

higb. il can be strongly smelt while crossing the river at Georgetown: It is pre- 
aumed to rise from or through a bed of miDeral coal embowelled under the bed of 
the river. The virtues of the Seneca, oil are Mmilar to those of the Briluh ail, and 
supposed to be equally valuable in the cures of rheumalick pains, &c. — Large 
quantities of the Seneca oil is collected on Oil creek, a branch of the Allegheny 
river, and sold at from one dollar and a half to two dollan per gaOon. The mode 
of collecting it is this; the place where it is found bubbling up tn the creek is sur- 
rounded by a wall ot dam to a narrow compass, a man then takes a blanket, flannel, 
or other woollen cloth, to which the oil adheres, and spreading it over the surface 
of Ibc enclosed pond, presses il down a little, then draws il up, and running the 
cloth through his hands, squeezes out the oil into a vessel prepared for the purpose; 
thus rwenlT or thirty gallons of pure oil can be obtained in two or three days by one 

" lite boundary b now marked by a stone monument. On the historic con- 
troversy conccnung this boundary, see Michaux's Travdi, vol. iii of this series, 
p. 170. note 31 .— Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 103 

A mile and a half below Stewart's, we passed Faucets- 
town, a hamlet of five or six houses and a ferry, from whence 
is a road thirty miles to Warren in Ohio. Here I observed 
some seines for fishing, made by fastening bushes together 
with the tough and flexible stalks of the wild grape, with 
which this whole western country abounds. 

Two miles below Faucetstown, on the right, is a remark- 
able rocky cliff, three hundred feet perpendicular, from 
which to Baker's island of a mile in length, is two miles, 
and from thence about a mile further, we passed on the right, 
Yellow creek," a handsome little river thirty yards wide, 
with Mr. Pettyford's good stone house well situated on its 
left bank.*' 

[86] From Yellow creek the appearance of the soil and 
country is better than above it, and the river is very beauti- 
ful, being in general about a quarter of a mile wide, inter- 
spersed with several islands, which add much to its beauty; 
some being partly cultivated and partly in wood, some 
wholly in wood, and some covered with low aquatick shrubs 
and bushes; and all fringed with low willows, whose yel- 
lowish green foliage, contrasted with the rich and variegated 
verdure of the gigantick forest trees, the fields of wheat and 
Indian com. and the dwarf alders, other shrubbery and 
reeds of the inundated islands, which they surround, mark 
their bounds as on a coloured map. First Neasley's cluster 
of small idands, two miles below Yellow creek; then Black's 
island a mile and a half long, two miles below them, and 
lastly, Little island close to the west end of Black's, joined 

*> A few miles up this creek art several valuable salt springs: al twa of which 
quantities of eicelleni salt is made. — CKAttex. 

" For the historic incidents connected with Yellow Creek and Baker's bottom, 
see Croghan's Jourtutl, vol. i of this scries, p. 137, note 93, and Thwaitcs, Ox iJw 
SUfrkd OAw.— Ed, 


Ear/y JVestem Travels 


by a sand bar to the right shore, where Jacob Neasley has a 
good two story wooden house, with a piazza.*' 

Four miles further we stopped at Wm. Croxton's tavern, 
the sign of the Black Horse, on the Virginia side, and got 
a bowl of excellent cider-oil. This is stronger than Madeira 
and is obtained from the cider by suffering it to freeze in the 
cask during the winter, and then drawing off and barrelling 
up the spirituous part which remains liquid, while the aque- 
ous is quickly congealed by the frost. Croxton and his 
wife had a youthful appearance, notwithstanding they had 
eight children, seven of whom were living. 

He was bom in this neighbourhood, lived here during 
the last Indian war, and cultivated a bottom opposite, 
through which flows a rivulet called Croxton's run, which 
turns a grist and saw mill."* On the United States appro- 
priating the N. W. territory, now the state of Ohio, he lost 
all that property by its being purchased by others, before he 
became informed of the necessity of his securing his tenure 
by obtaining a grant from the government. He complained 
[87] of a toothache, from the torture of which I relieved him, 
by burning the nerve with a hot knitting needle, which 
however did not prevent him from charging us for our cider. 

On the opposite bank a mile below Croxton's, a Mr. 
White of Middleton in Virginia, is building a fine house of 
hewn stone; and a mile further on the same side, we admired 
the romantick situation of a farm house, with a garden tastily 
filled with a profusion of flowers; opposite to which on the 
Virginia side, is a remarkable cliff near the top of the high 

" This group ol islands is still known as Kneistiys Cluster. See Tbwaites, On 
tkt Storied Ohio. 

Jacob Kneistly (or Neasly) was at Swiss origin and emigrated to this region 
from Pennsylvania about 1785.— Ed. 

* Croxton's Run was the scene of one of the last Indian fights in this vidnily 
(1787). Fourteen hunters were attacked here by a party of wandering Shawnees, 
and four of the whites killed. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 105 

river hill, occasioned by a large piece of the hill having 
broken off and fallen down. 

Four miles below Croxton's we passed Brown's island, 
containing three hundred and fifty acres of iirst rate land, 
on the right, and opposite the lower end of it on the left 
we stopped for the night at Brown's, who is a magistrate, 
and has a noble farm and a house very pleasantly situated 
on a high bank, with a sleep slope to the river. 

We found the squire weighing sugar, which he had sold 
to Mr. Sumrall of Pittsburgh, who owns some regular 
freighting keel boats, who with one of them was now on 
his return from Cumberland river, and had also stopped here 
for the night. 

The negroes, cattle, offices, and the appearance of every 
thing here, indicated the greatest abundance of the produce 
of this plentiful country. Neither the old squu-e nor his 
wife, ever knew confinement by accident or bad health, 
until about two months ago, when by a fall from her horse, 
she dislocated her hip, and broke one of her knees. Her 
son restored the limbs to their places, and she employed no 
surgeon, but is curing herself gradually, though slowly, by an 
embrocation of camphorated spirit. 

After supping with the old gentleman, near his old wife's 
bed side, on apple pye, bread, butter and milk, he kiss«l 
her, and then shewed us to a room [88] with four beds in it, 
one of which he occupied himself, and gave us possession 
of another, which we were not allowed to possess in peace, 
as its indigenous inhabitants, indignant at our intrusion, 
assailed us all night with such fury, as to drive us from 
their quarters at the first dawn of day. The old man had 
entertained us until a late hour, by narrating to us his situa- 
tion, and that of his famUy. His children have all good 
farms, and he intends making no will, that they may inherit 
equally, (according to the very equitable law of this country 


Early Western Travels 


respecting intestate inheritance) whatever he may die 
possessed of, which he gave us to understand was very 
considerable. — One daughter is married to a Mr. Madan, 
an Irishman, to whom he gave a farm with her, which 
Madan sold for a thousand dollars five years ago, and 
removed to St. Genevieve on the Mississippi, where he is 
now a land surveyor with an income of two thousand dollars 
per annum. Two years ago, squire Brown, notwithstanding 
his age, about seventy, paid his daughter a visit, a distance 
of a thousand miles. 

Though he does not keep a tavern, he knows how to 
charge as if he did, we having to pay him half a dollar for 
our plain supper, plainer bed, and two quarts of milk we 
took with us next morning; which was very high in a country 
where cash is very scarce, and every thing else very abun- 

Remarkable bend in the river — Steubenville — Ornament- 
ed seats and farms — Charlestown — Bakewell's, and 
other manufactories — A versatile professional character 
— Buffalo creek. 

At 6 o'clock on Monday, 20th July, we proceeded on our 
voyage, and three miles below Brown's passed a point or 
rather a peninsula on the left, formed by a remarkable turn 
in the river, which takes a direction due east for two miles; 
its general course from Big Beaver to Baker's island having 
been west, and from thence south. On the peninsula is a 
well cleared and beautifully situated farm, and there is a 
remarkable heap of loose rocks on the opposite shore, where 
a small creek falls into the Ohio, with a neat stone cottage 
at its mouth. At the end of the easterly reach is a good 
two story stone house of a Mr. Kelly, just under a hill on the 
Ohio side, with a fine bottom opposite. 

Cuming's Tour to the West 

At a little before eight o'clock we stopped at\§teubenville, 
the capital, of Jefferson county in Ohi^ seven miles from 
Brown's, frhis town has been settled about eight years, 
chiefly by emigrants from the state of Jersey. It contains 
one hundred and sixty houses, including a new gaol of hewn 
stone, a court house of square logs (which it is said is to be 
soon replaced by a new one" of better materials), and a 
brick presbyterian chur^ There are four or five different 
sects of christians in this town, but no established minister, 
except a Mr. Snodgrass to the presbyterians, and a Mr. 
Doddridge, who comes from [go] Charlestown in Virginia, 
every other Sunday, to officiate to the episcopalians in the 
court house, which is occasionally used for the same pur- 
pose by the other sects. 

There is a land office here for the sale of the publick 
lands, from which large sums in Spanish dollars are sent 
annually to the treasury of the United States in Washington. 
Perhaps this is one cause of the town having increased so 
rapidly. Another may be its very handsome situation. 
The first street, which is parallel to the river, is on a narrow 
flat, sufficiently raised above the river floods; while the 
rest of the town is about twenty feet perpendicular above it, 
on an extensive plain, rising gradually with a gentle slope 
to the foot of the hills which surround it in a semicircle like 
an amphitheatre, about a mile distant. On one of those a 
Mr. Smith has a house and farm which seems to impend 
over the south end of the town, from an elevation of four 
hundred feet perpendicular from the bed of the river. 
Mr. Bazil. Wells, who is joint proprietor of the soil with Mr. 
James Ross of Pittsburgh, has a handsome house and finely 

** A hADdsome brick court bouse has since been erected, and the inside work 
□early completed. An original bank was established at Stcubenville in 1809, by a 
law of the state, with a capital of 100,000 dollars, with power lo increase it to 500,000 
dollars. Bazaleel Wells president, W. R. Dickinson, cashier,^ C SAM EK, 


Early Western Travels 


improved garden and farm on the bank of the Ohio, a quar- 
ter of a mile below the town.*' 

We remained about an hour in Steubenville, (which is 
named in honour of the late major general baron Steuben, 
the founder of the present American military tacticks) : We 
then pursued our course down the river, passing at half a 
mile a point on the left, where is a tavern with a fine ex- 
tensive bottom behind it; and four and a half miles further, 
we left Mingo bottom island (very small) on the left; half 
a mile below which on the right is Mr. Potter's handsome 
square roofed house, and a quarter of a mile lower down is 
Mr. Pratt's neat frame cottage, ornamented like Potter's 
with weeping willows and Lombardy poplars. A mile and 
a quarter from hence we passed two small creeks called 
Cross creeks, one on [91] each hand, and a mile and a half 
below them, on turning a point on the left, we saw Charles- 
town, half a league before us, on the Virginia side, making 
a handsome appearance, with the white spire of the court 
house, and several good looking private houses, which are 
distinctly seen from the river, on account of the situation 
being on a lower bank than that of Steubenville. 

At eleven we landed in Charlestown,*' went to the inn 
where the mail stage between Pittsburgh and Wheeling 
stops, and ordered dinner, during the preparation of which, 
we amused ourselves with walking through the town. It 
was laid out about fourteen years ago, and now contains 

" steubenville 'was founded (1797) upon the site of Fort Steuben, one of the 
eajUesI blockhouses buill in Ohio bytbe Federal government {1786-E7). 

Bezaleel Wells was the son of Alexander Wells, a well'known West Vugfuia 
pioneer who founded the town of Wcllsburg, dying there in 1813. The son wa* 
considered the best surveyor in the region, and laid out and speculated in town lots 
at Canton, Ohio, as well as at Steubenville. — Ed. 

"The present town of Wellsburg, West Virginia, was first laid out (1791) 
under the name of Charlesiown, in honor of Charles Prather, iia earliest proprietor. 
Id i8t6 its name was changed by action of the legisUlure. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


about eighty houses of various materials — brick, stone and 
wood, principally in one street parallel to the Ohio. In 
the middle is a convenient little court house of stone, with 
a small, light cupola spire. The gaol is behind it, and in 
front is the pillory," on a plan differing from any I ever saw 
elsewhere: A large, round wooden cover, like an immense 
umbrella, serving as a shade for the criminal in the stocks, 
or for a platform for one in the pillory to stand on, or for a 
shelter from sun or rain to the inhabitants who meet on 
business in front of the court house, the place generally 
used as a sort of exchange in the small towns in this country. 
A Col. Connel, who is a farmer, and clerk of the county 
courts of Brooke county, has a very large but unfinished 
house of hewn stone near the court house. The academy 
is a good brick building on the ascent of the hill behind the 
town, and was a good school until broken up by some politi- 
cal division among the inhabitants, which induced Mr. 
Johnston, the last master, to remove to Beaver [92] in 
Pennsylvania, where he now keeps the county clerk's 

Mr. Bakewell from England, who has been established 
here about two years, politely shewed us his manufactury 
of pottery and queensware. He told us that the business 
would answer very well, could workmen be got to be de- 
pended upon; but that those he has hitherto employed, have 
always quit his service before the term of the expiration of 
their contracts, notwithstanding any law to the contrary; and 

" The pillory puniBhmenl, a few years ago, prevailed throughoul several of the 
states, but has been wisely abolished by all but Viiginia. — Craues. 

"Mr. David Johnston was removed from his office in Beaver county after the 
election of Mr. Snyder as governor. Before he went to Charlestown be taught in 
the Canonsburgh college, and was elected in that county, Washington, to a seal in 
the PenDsytvania Icgialature. He now teaches a private school in Brownsville. — 


Early Western Travels 


two of them have actually set up small manufacturies in 
Charlestown, one of queensware in opposition to him, and 
the other of tobacco pipes. Bakewell's ware is very good, 
but not so fine, nor so well glazed as that manufactured in 
England, owing probably to the difference of materials, as 
the process is the same. 

Mr. Doddridge who officiates alternately here and at 
Steubenville, to the episcopal congregations, first practised 
law, then physick, and now adds the trade of a tanner to 
the profession of divinity." 

The wells here are dug forty to fifty feet deep before water 
is come at, but that inconvenience might be easily remedied 
by conveying water to the town in pipes from the surrounding 
hills, which will doubtless be the case, should it ever become 
a manufacturing town; which a few more inhabitants of 
equal spirit and enterprize vrith Bakewell would soon effect. 

Buffalo creek falls into the Ohio at the south end of the 
town, after a course of forty or fifty miles through Wash- 
ington county in Pennsylvania, and [93] the narrow tongue 
of Virginia in which Charlestown is situated. It had a 
wooden bridge about forty yards in length across the mouth 
of it, on the post road to Wheeling, which was carried away 
last spring by a flood," 

" Cuming here refer* to Rev. Dr. Joseph Doddridge, whose Noles on tht Set- 
llemenl and iTldiaa Wars ej the Western Parti oj Virginia and Pennsylvania (Wells- 
burgb, 1S14; second edition, Albany, 1876) is a mine of antiquarian lore. Dod- 
dridge, the son of a wetl-known pioneer, was bom (1769) in Bedford County, 
Pennsylvania; but at an eariy age his father removed to Washington County and 
the family experienced backwoods life. Young Doddridge was first a Methodist 
itinerant, but later ordained in the Protestant Episcopal church. He aJso studied 
medidne under Dr. Rush in Phibdelphia, and settled at Wellsburg, where he was 
a useful and influential citizen. His biother Philip was a well-known ^rginia 
lawyer and statesman. See West Virginia Historical Magatint, January, 1901, on 
the Doddridges. — ■ Ed. 

" This bridge has since been rebuilt.— Crauek. 

Cuming's Tour to the West 


New town and settlement of Warren — Roland's ferry — 
Comfortable situation, the effect of industry — Wheeling 
— Walk by moon-light — New state road — Wheeling 
island — Canton. 

We proceeded after dinner from Charlestown, three and 
a half miles to a ferry, and two miles further, we passed a 
point and a tavern on the right, a mile and a half below 
which on the same hand, is the straggling town and fine 
settlement of Warren, laid out by Mr. Kimberly, the pro- 
prietor, five years ago, but it is only within two years that 
it has began to assume the appearance of a town. It con- 
tains thirty-eight dwelling houses, charmingly situated on 
an extensive bottom, the largest I had noticed since leaving 
Pittsburgh, with Indian Short creek emptying into the Ohio 
at its southern extremity. 

Three miles lower, we passed Pike island, which is about 
three quarters of a mile long, and seems capable of cultiva- 
tion, though perhaps rather low. Opposite to it is the 
boundary line between Jefferson and Belmont counties in 

Two miles further, at six o'clock we landed at Roland's 
ferry, on the left, and found Roland and his son employed 
building a boat on the bank. He had removed from Pitts- 
burgh last April, and now rents [94] a small farm from Mr. 
Woods, the county surveyor, who has a handsome house in 
sight, a little remote from the river where he resides, another 
on the bank a little lower down, and a cottage amongst the 
woods on the highest neighbouring hill, intended for a 
banqueting house during summer, and commanding an 
extensive prospect. At Roland's invitation, we walked to his 
cottage a Httie distant from the river bank. His wife and a 

1 1 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

very fine girl his eldest daughter were spinning cotton, 
while a younger one was attending the ferry, who though a 
delicate and pretty girl, paddled the skiff backwards and 
forwards as well as a man could do. He has been very 
industrious, as besides having built several skiffs since his 
removal, he had planted and cultivated twelve acres of the 
finest com I ever saw, some of it now twelve feet high, just 
beginning to ear. He had also a large garden well stocked 
with useful roots and vegetables. 

At seven we left Roland's, and three miles and a half 
below, passed between the north end of Wheeling island on 
the right, and the principal part of the town of Wheeling 
on the left," which is situated on so high a cliff, with the 
avenues from the river so steep, that on account of the ap- 
parent difficulty of getting our baggage carried up, we pre- 
ferred going on to where the cliff was considerably lower, 
landing just under Sprigg's tavern near the ship-yards, a 
little above the confluence of Wheeling creek with the Ohio. 

This being a great thoroughfare, on account of its situa- 
tion where the great post roads from Philadelphia, Balti- 
more, and the northern part of Virginia unite, and cross the 
river, on the route through the states of Ohio and Kentucky, 
to Tennessee and New Orleans, we found several travellers 
of various descriptions in the house, and after partaking 
with them of a good supper, we went out to saunter until bed 
time through the town, into which we had to [95] ascend a 
steep but short hill. It appeared very lively, the inhabi- 
tants being about their doors, or in the street, enjoying 
the fresh air of a clear moonlight evening, while two flutes 
were playing en duo the simple but musical Scots ballad of 
Roy's wife of Aldwalloch, the prime part very tastily exe- 

" On the early histoiy of Wheeling and its importance as a tenninus fbr over- 
l&nd travel from Redstone and Fort Pitt, see Michaux's Travel), voL iii of this 
series, p- 33. note 15: also Thwailes, On Ike Shritd Ohio. — Ed. 


i8o;-i8o9] Cuming's Tour to the West 1 1 3 

cuted. Yet notwithstanding appearances, our impression 
of the town was not the most favourable, nor after tolerable 
beds and a good breakfast next morning, had we reason to 
alter our opinion when we examined it by day light. 

It contains one hundred and twenty houses of all descrip- 
tions from middling downwards, in a street about half a mile 
long, parallel to the river, on a bank of about one hundred 
feet perpendicular, which the face of the cliff almost literally 
is, of course the avenues to the landings are very steep and 
inconvenient. The court-house of stone with a small 
belfry, has nothing in beauty to boast of. The gaol joins 
it in the rear. 

It is probable that Mr. Zanes, the original proprietor, now 
regrets that he had not placed the town on the flat below, 
at the conflux of the Wheeling and Ohio, where Spriggs's 
inn and the ship-yards now are, instead of cultivating it as 
a farm until lately, when a resolve of congress to open a new 
publick state road from the metropolis through the western 
country, which will come to the Ohio near the mouth of 
Wheeling creek, induced him to lay it out in town lots, but 
I fear he is too late to see it become a considerable town to 
the prejudice of the old one, notwithstanding its more ad- 
vantageous situation. — The present town does not seem 
to thrive, if one may judge by the state of new buildings, 
two only of which I saw going forward in it. The stores also 
appeared rather thinly stocked with goods, and the retail 
prices are high. When the new road is finished, it will 
doubtless be of great use to Wheeling, as it will be a more 
direct route to the western states, [96] than any of the others 
hitherto used, and besides there are no material impediments 
to the navigation of the Ohio with the usual craft, below 
that town in the driest seasons, when the river is at the low- 

The surrounding country in sight is hilly and broken, 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

but I am informed that it is very rich and plentiful at a short 
distance from the river. 

Wheeling island in front of the town, is about a mile 
long, and half a mile wide in its broadest part. It is very 
fertile, and is all cultivated as a farm by Mr. Zanes. The 
post and stage road to Chilicothe in Ohio, goes across it, 
which occasions two ferries, an inconvenience which will be 
remedied by the new state road crossing by one ferry 
below the island. 

Indian Wheeling creek, a fine mill stream joins the Ohio 
from the N. W. opposite the middle of the island, and Mr. 
Zanes has lately laid out a new town there named Canton, 
which has now thirteen houses, but from its proximity to 
Wheeling, it never can become considerable." 

Litde Grave creek — Remarkable Indian monument — 
Floating store — Big Grave creek — Captina island and 
creek — Baker's station — Cressop's — Fish creek — Bid- 
die's — John Well's — A rustick chorister — Uncommon 


On the 21st July at eight A. M. we left Wheeling, ob- 
serving nothing very interesting, until we reached Little 
Grave creek, eleven miles below at [97] half past eleven 
o'clock. The creek, which is very small, puts in from the 
Virginia side, and there is a ferry house at the mouth of it, 
where we landed, and had a pleasant walk on a very good 
wagon road of half a mile to Tomlinson's, the proprietor 

"The use of Ihe terms Indian Wheeling Creek, Indian Kentucky, etc. for 
streams flowing into the Ohio from its northern and western side is a reminiscence 
of the days when the Ohio was a boundaiy between the white settlements and 
Indian territory. The Indian title to these lands was not extinguished, and the 
danger of attack from this side of the river was not removed until after the Treaty 
of Greenville (1795). 

The town laid out opposite Wheeling was not the nucleus of the well-known 
Canton (Stark County), Ohio; but a place that perished, according to Cuming's 
prediction. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 1 1 5 

of the surrounding soil. He has been settled here thirty 
years, but always forted untO the conclusion of the Indiail 
war by General Wayne. He then attempted to establish 
a town on the opposite side of the creek from his house ; but 
it remains without augmentation, with only eleven cot- 
tages and cabins. The neighbouring country however is 
improving, though slowly. Mr. Tomlinson has a very good 
two story brick house, almost finished, fine apple and peach 
orchards, and a good farm." 

Mrs. Tomlinson obligingly permitted one of her sons to 
guide us to what is called the Indian grave, which is a short 
quarter of a mile to the southward of the house. It is a 
circular mound, like the frustum of a cone, about one hun- 
dred and eighty yards in circumference round the base, 
sixty round the flat on the top, and about seventy feet per- 
pendicular height. In the centre of the flat top is a shallow 
hollow, like the filled up crater of an old volcano, which 
hollow or settle is said to have been formed within the 
memory of the first neighbouring settlers, and is supposed 
by them to be occasioned by the settling of the earth on the 
decayed bodies. 

The whole mount appears to be formed of clay, and from 
its regularity, is evidently a work of art, though I am not 
of opinion that it has been a general or publick cemetery, 
but either a mausoleum raised over, and in memory of some 
great Indian chief, a temple for religious worship, or the 
scite of a fortification, or citadel to serve as a place ,of retreat 
from a superior foe. About three years ago, the neighbours 
perforated the north side, at about half the elevation, digging 
in horizontally about twelve feet, without any [98] other 
satisfaction to their curiosity, than the finding of part of a 
human jaw bone, the bone rough and honeycombed, but 

" For a skelcb of Joseph Tomlinson, a well-known pioneer, see Harris's Journal, 
vol. iiiof ttiii series, p. 360, note 40. The expressioa "forted" means that he lived 
wilhlD a stockade slronghold undl the close of the Indian wars. — Ed. 

1 1 6 Early Western Travels (Vol. 4 

the teeth entire, and the surrounding clay of a white chalky 

There are four or five small mounds all within a few 
hundred yards of the great one, each about thirty feet diam- 
eter, much lower in proportion than it, all rounded over the 
tops, and like the great one, shewing their antiquity by the 
size of the trees, plants, and shrubs which cover them, and 
having more than it the appearance of tumuli. 

The bark of the trees which crown this remarkable monu- 
ment, is covered by the initials of visitors cut into it, wherever 
they could reach — the number of which, considering the 
remote situation, is truly astonishing. '' 
L_On returning to our boat we found a floating store at the 
landing. It was a large square flat, roofed and fitted with 
shelves and counter, and containing a various assortment 
of merchandize, among which were several copper stills, 
of which much use is now made throughout the whole west- 
ern country for distilling peach and apple brandy, and rye 
whiskey. — The store had two owners, who acted both as 
boatmen and merchant^ and who freely invited us to par- 
take of a dram with them. They had loaded their flat 
at Wheeling, and were dropping dovm the river, stopping 
occasionally wherever they could find a market for their 

At about one o'clock we proceeded on our voyage, passing 
on the right Mr. Dilly's large frame house and fine farm, 
round which the river takes a great bend to the westward." 

" On the subject of Indian mounds, see for recent scientific conclusions, Lucien 
CaiT, "Mound Builders," in Smithsonian Institution Rtport, 1S91 (Wa^hinglon. 
iBgs), pp. 503-599; also Ameiican Bureau of Ethnology ttlh Atmual Report 
(Washington, 1894).— Ed. 

" Dillon's Bottom is nearly opposite Moundsville. Jusl beyond, at the bend 
which Cuming mentions, was situated Round Bottom, which Colonel Crawford 
surveyed fot Washington, in t77i. Cresap made a tomahawk claim to the same 
land, and there was a long litigation over the matter, which was not finally adjusted 
until 1839, when the suit was dedded in favor of Washington's claim. See Wash- 
ington's Workz (Ford ed., New York, 1889), iii, pp, 393, 408.— Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


About five miles and a half below Little Grave creek, 
after passing Big Grave creek," (which is as [99] inconsid- 
erable as its namesake notwithstanding its distinguishing 
adjective) and Captina island (very small) and after having 
stopped for a few minutes at one Baker's, who answered 
our questions with savage moroseness, we passed Captina 
creek on the right, emptying into the Ohio through an 
extensive bottom, vrith three mills and several settlements 
on it. 

A mile lower, on the left is Baker's station, which has the 
appearance of an old settlement." 

About three miles below Captina creek we stopped on the 
left at Mr. Cressop's fine farm. He was on the plantation 
overseeing his labourers, but Mrs. Cressop received us 
politely. She is young and very handsome, and her em- 
ployments of rocking her infant in its cradle while she exer- 
cised her needle, did not diminish any thing of her beauty 
or respectability. She is sister in law to Mr. Luther Martin, 
a celebrated lawyer of Baltimore.*' 

'* On Big Grave Creek occurred the ambuscade (September »7, 1777) in which 
Captain WiUiom Foreman and twenty Virginia militianien were'slaio on tbeir 
way to the relief of Fort Wheeling. — Ed. 

" The family of Bakers here mentioned is not to be confused with that of 
Joshua Baker, at whose settlement opposite Yellow Creek occurred the massacre 
of Logan's family. John Baker wa^ a Prussian who emigrated to America lit 
1755, removed to the Shenandoah Valley, later to Dunkard's Creek, and (17S1) 
to Washington County, Pennsylvania. While there he learned of a projected 
Indian attack on the fort at Wheeling, and sent his son Henry, a youth of eighteen, 
to deliver (he warning. Henry was captured by the Indians, carried to the San- 
dusky towns, and only saved ol the intercession of Simon Girty. Upon his release 
three years later, he found that his father had again temoved, and fortified Baker's 
Station near Captina Creek. At the close of the Indian wars, Henry Baker mar- 
ried, and moving up the river purchased a farm including Captina Island, where 
Cumiag found him. — Ed. 

" Mrs. Cresap wad a Miss Ogle, whom Michael Cresap had married a few 
years previous. Michael Cresap, jr., was but an infant when his father. Captain 
Michael Cresap, died. The latter is well-known In border annals. As early as 
1771 be bad begun sending out squatters from his home in Oldtown, Maryland, to 
take up Ohio Undsi but he himself did not settle in this ridnity until the spring of 

1 1 8 "Early Western Travels [Vol, 4 

Mr. Cressop owns a thousand acres of land here in one 
body, most of it first rate bottom, his cottage is well furnished, 
and he has a neat and good garden, 

A little lower we passed Woods's fine island, about a mile 
long, and stopped just beyond it at Biddle's tavem on the 
left, at the conflux of Fish creek*' and the Ohio, a mile and 
a half below Cressop's. Biddle keeps a ferry over Fish 
creek, which is a fine deep stream, fifty yards wide, running 
thirty miles through the country, but having no mills on it 

Mr. and Mrs. Biddle are kind and hospitable, decent in 
their manners, and reasonable in their charges. He is a 
tenant of Mr. Robert Woods, whose house and extensive 
improvements we had passed at Roland's ferry near Wheel- 

Biddle pays a rent of one hundred dollars per annum, for 
which he has a right to cultivate and build wherever he 
pleases on Woods's land, Mr. Woods paying him per valua- 
tion for the buildings. The house he now resides in cost 
him six hundred dollars, [loc] which he has been repaid. 
He has cleared and cultivated the land for some distance 
round the house, and he has ten acres in com on the island, 
which contains fifty acres of the first quality of soil above 
the highest flood marks, the rest being liable to inundation. 

At nine o'clock, we landed on the left at John Wells's, 
seven miles from Biddle's. It was a fine night. Eight or 

1774, wbcn he immcdiBtely became involved in the troubles leading lo Lord Dun- 
more's War. He was conunissioDed captain of the local mililia (June lO, 1774), 
and joined McDonald's expedition to the Muskingum towns. The following year 
Cresap was again in Maryland, and raised a company for the Coatioental army, 
dying iu New York on his way to join Washington at Cambridge. Of his children 
the eldest daughter married Luther Martin, the well-known Maryland statesman 
and jurist. The youngest son, Michael, settled on his father's Ohio Lmda, and 
became a wealthy and respected citizen. — Ed. 

" For the incidents connected with the early history of Fish Creek, tee 
Harris's Journal, vol. iii of this series, p. 350, note 37. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming^ I Tour to the West 1 1 9 

nine young men who had been reaping for Wells during the 
day, were stretched out at their ease on the ground, round 
the door of the cabin, listening to the vocal performance 
of one of their comrades, who well merited their attention, 
from the goodness of his voice, his taste, execution, variety 
and humour. We enjoyed a rural supper, while listening 
to the rustick chorister, then resisting our friendly host's 
invitation to accept of a bed, and provided with a light and 
some milk for next morning's breakfast, we retired to our 
skiff, threw out a night line to fish, and endeavoured to com- 
pose ourselves to sleep under our awning. We were much 
disturbed throughout the night by gnats and musquitoes, 
attracted probably by our light, before extinguishing of 
which, we killed a winged animal of the fly kind, the largest 
of the species I had ever seen. It was about three inches 
long, with four gauzy wings, and a most formidable dis- 
play of forceps on each side the mouth, like those of a 
scorpion, for which reason it might be named not improperly 
a winged scorpion, though it is probably not venomous 
like it. 

Wells and his wife are a young couple who removed last 
spring to this place, from his father's, an opulent farmer, 
eighteen miles lower down the river. They are kind and 
obliging, and better informed than one might expect, from 
their limited opportunities of acquiring knowledge in so 
remote a situation. Mrs. Wells, though a delicately formed 
woman, and with [101] twin boys only six weeks old, both 
of whom she nurses, seemed neither to have, nor to require 
any assistance in her domestick employments, yet both 
plenty and order were observable throughout her cabin. 
Though we were much incommoded here by musquitoes, 
yet I must observe, that comparatively with the country 
to the eastward of the Allegheny moimtains, particularly 
near the sea coast, in the vicinity of salt marshes, we found 

Rarly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

very few of those troublesome insects, in our descent of the 
Ohio, and though we occasionally heard the unwelcome 
hum of a few solitary ones, we never once saw or heard a 
swarm of them: we were however sometimes at night, when 
sleeping in our skiff, infested by gnats or sand flies, but not 
in such numbers as we might have expected on a river in the 
warmest season of the year. 


Fishing creek — Apathy of relatives for a dying man — 

Long reach ^ Charles Wells's — Remarkable petrifaction 

— Squire Green's — Little Muskingum river — Marietta 

— Muskingum river — Ingenuous mode of ferrying — 
Vestiges of Indian fortification. 

At half past four on Wednesday 22d July, we loosed from 
the bank, and drifted down the stream: The banks on both 
sides low, and the bottoms very extensive. 

At eight we were abreast of Fishing creek on the left 
seven miles below Wells's. It is about the size of Fish 
creek, and has a saw mill on it, and at its mouth, one Morgan 
has a farm beautifully situated, 

[102] At half past eight we overtook Frazey's boat which 
we had passed on the i8th, and which had floated past us 
during the night. The sick man had had fits yesterday, 
yet neither his wife, his son, nor his brother seemed much 
affected with his situation, but spoke of it very carelessly, 
though they did not expect him to live twenty-four hours 
longer. He had been some years in a declining state, and 
perhaps they thought that his death would be convenient 
both to them and to himself. 

Three miles and a half below Fishing creek, we left 
Peyton's island on the left. It is about a mile and a half 
long, and is cultivated and inhabited. — From hence, the 
Long reach in its whole length of eighteen miles, the islands 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West i 2 i 

on the left, the projecting points on the right, and the forest 
covered and unequal hills on each side, fonn a most beauti- 
ful coup d'oeil. 

Four miles and a half lower, we had passed Williamson's 
island, which is above two miles long, and we stopped 
just below it on the left bank, at Charles Wells's, the sign 
of the buck. He is father to John Wells, at whose house 
we had supped last night: He has a fine farm, good build- 
ings and a large tract of land which he bought from a Mr. 
Caldwell two or three years ago. We here got a good dinner, 
the charge was reasonable, and the family obliging. 

Mr. Wells shewed us a remarkable petrifaction of part 
of a beech tree, found about twenty miles from his house, 
at the other side of the river in the state of Ohio, in a north- 
erly direction. The tree was found torn up by the root, 
which with part of the trunk, was covered by a pool of 
stagnate water, and completely petrified, while the part of 
the trunk and the limbs which were out of the water, were 
still in their original state of wood, but dry, and partly 
rotten. We wished to purchase this petrification from 
Mr. Wells, but he was too much of a naturalist himself to 
part [103] with such a curiosity for a sum which would have 
been a temptation to a person of a diflFerent taste." 

"The following account of uncommon petiifactioiu from Georgia, and Ken- 
tucky, we copy from the New York Medical Repository, vol. ii, page 415 

"Two rare extraneous fossils have been discovered, one in Georgia and the 
otlier in Kentucky. They have both been presented to Dr Mitchili. The fonner 
waa brought by general David Meriwether, from a spring not very clislaiit from ihe 
high shoals of the river Apalachy. It is rather above the size and Ihickoess of a 
Spanish doliar, except that it is somewhat gibbous or convex on the upper side. 
From the centre proceed five bars, of four rays each, in Ihe dir.n:tion of radial 
lines, but connected by curves before they reach the circumference. On the under 
tide ate five grooves or creases, corresponding with the five radial bars above, one 
crease below to four rays above. At the centre beneath is a considerable concavity, 
corresponding with the convexity on the outside. There is reason to believe that 
It is an ecAi'niu, or ita-urchin of which the species are very numerous, some of Ihem 
Dearly flat, and many are found buried in the earth oi great distances from the 
ocean. — From the place where this was found, it was computed there were enough, 

122 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

Passing Pursley's, Wilson's and Williamson's islands, 
none of them exceeding a mile in length, we came to the 
end of Long reach, eleven miles below Wells's, where in a 
charming situation on the left, is [104] a fine settlement, 
commanding a view of the reach and its islands upwards." 

Little and Rat islands joined by a sand bar, are only half 
a mile long each, and just below them, and three miles from 
Long reach, is the beginning of Middle island, which is 
two miles and a half long, with three families settled on it. 
Middle island creek, after running some distance from its 
source in Virginia, turns some mills and falls into the Ohio 
at the back of the island. We went to the right of those 
islands, and two miles below Middle island, we landed at 
squire Green's tavern on the right, and got supper and 

The squire who derives his title from being a magistrate, 
came here from Rhode Island about nine years ago. He has 
a fine farm, on an extensive bottom, and he has two sons 
settled about a mile back from the river, where they have a 
horse-mill and a distillery. Two younger sons and a daugh- 
ter, a sensible pleasing young woman, live at home with their 
parents. One of the sons was suffering under a fever and 

b; estimation, to fill a bushel. And what was very remarkable, they were so 
nearly alike that they seemed to have been fashioned in the same mould, and have 
not been discovered in any other place. 

" The latter of these rarities is from Kentucky. One of them had been received 
Mveral years ago from Dr. S. Brown, of Lexington, now of Orleans; and severaj 
others since from Professor Woodhouse. They have a remote resemblance to a 
Email acorti. A( the larger end is a small projection resembling a broken fool- 
slock. At the smaller eWremily are sii indentations, or orifices, which may 
be imagined to be the decayed pistils or stigmata of a former blossom. And on 
the sides are figured fine sharp-pointed surfaces, having a similitude to the quinque- 
pardle calyx of a plant. It may be doubled whether this is of animal or vegetable 
origin. It also may be reasonably supposed to be a spedes of echinMS. 

" Both the spedmeos are silicious and insoluble in adds.' ' — Cbauer. 

** This settlement failed to develop into a permanent town, as there is now no 
important settlement at this point on tbe West Virginia side of the river. — Ed, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 123 

ague, the first time it had been known in the family — a 
proof of the salubrity of the situation, the bottoms and 
flats throughout this country being generally subject to 
this harassing and enfeebling disorder, which however 
diminishes in proportion as the lands are cleared. I recom- 
mended a plentiful use of calomel occasionally, and a strong 
decoction of Peruvian bark, snake root and ginseng, during 
all the intermissions. 

On Thursday 23d July, we proceeded down the river at 
five A. M. passing three small islands called (the Three 
Brothers, between a mile and two miles and a half below 
squire Green's, the two first of which are rather low, but 
the third is partly cultivated. — The river, its banks and 
islands are very beautiful hereabouts; the hills having 
gradually lessened from the south end of the Long reach, 
there are none but [105] very moderate risings to be seen 
from the river, at twelve miles below squire Green's, where 
I observed on the left a saw for ship plank. Two miles 
further, at half past nine, we passed Little Muskingum 
river on the right. It is about twenty-five yards wide, and 
has a handsome Chinese bridge over it. Dewal's island 
extends from hence two miles and a half to[Marietta,Swhere 
we landed on the right at eleven o'clock. 

This townMs finely situated on both banks of the Muskin- 
gum, at the confluence of that river with the Ohio. It is 
principally built on the left bank, where there are ninety- 
seven houses, including a court-house, a market-house, an 
academy, and a post-office. There are about thirty houses 
on the opposite bank j the former scite of Fort Harmar, 
which was a United States' garrison during the Indian wars, 
but of which no vestige now remains. (Some of the houses 
are of brick, some of stone, but they are chiefly of wood, 
many of them large, and having a certain air of taste. There 
are two rope walks, and there were on the stocks two ships, 


Early Western Travels 


two brigs, and a schooner. A bank is established herejj 
which began to issue notes on the 20th inst. Its capital 
is one hundred thousand dollars, in one thousand shares: 
Mr. Rufus Putnam is the president." 

The land on which Marietta is built, was purchased 
during the Indian war, from the United States, by some 
New England land speculators, who named themselves the 
Ohio Company. They chose the land facing the Ohio, 
with a depth from the river of only from twenty to thirty 
miles to the northward, thinking the proximity of the river 
would add to its value, but since the state of Ohio has began 
to be generally settied, the rich levels in the interior have 
been preferred, but not before the company had made large 
sales, particularly to settlers from New England, notwith- 
standing the greatest part of the tract [106] was broken and 
hilly, and the hills mostly poor, compared with those farther 
to the westward, on both sides of the river. 

Marietta is principally inhabited by New Englanders, 
which accounts for the neat and handsome style of building 
displayed in it. 

The Muskingum is about two hundred yards wide, and 
has a rapid current of from three to four miles an hour, by 
which a ferry boat is carried across in something more than 
a minute, by a very simple but ingenious piece of machinery. 
A rope of five or six inches in cu-cumference is extended 
across from bank to bank, and hove taught by a windlass: 
two rollers play on it fixed in a box to each end of which the 
ends of two smaller ropes are fastened, whose other ends 
are led to the two extremities of the ferry flat, and taken 
round winches with iron cranks, on which the rope at the 
end of the flat which is to be foremost being wound up, 
presents the side of the fiat to the current at an angle of 

** Fot sketch of Kufus PuDuun, gee Harris's JomtimJ, vol. iii of this setks, p-3ii> 



Cuming's Tour to the West 


about thirty degrees. It is then pushed off — the current 
acts upon it, and it arrives at the opposite side in the time 
above-mentioned . 

There is a good road from Marietta, twelve mUes up the 
bank of the Muskingum to Waterford, which is a good set- 
tlement with some mills, from whence it is continued north- 
erly, parallel to the general course of the river, to Zanesville," 
and the interiour of the state. 

About half a mile from Marietta, on the bank of the Mus- 
kingum, are some curious vestiges of Indian fortification. 
A parallelogram of seven hundred by five hundred yards is 
surrounded by a raised bank of two or three feet high, and 
ten or twelve feet broad, with four entrances opposite to 
each other on the two longest sjdes, and opposite to the two 
oblong platforms at diagonal comers of the parallelogram 
which are raised four or five feet above the surface of the 
natural plain. A causeway forty yards wide, and from ten 
to twelve feet high, rounded like a turnpike [107] road, leads 
from it to the river. Three hundred yards nearer the town 
is a mount resembling the monument at Grave creek and 
about half its height and size, surrounded by a ditch four 
feet deep, through which are two entrances. 

We got a good dinner at Monsall's tavern, where major 
Joseph Lincoln,*' to whom I had a letter of introduction, 
politely called on us, conversed with us, and gave us much 
information ; and regretted that our determination to descend 

" ZancsviUe on the Muskingum (vas laid out (1799) by Jonathan Zanc (brother 
of the founder of Wheeling) and John Mclntyre. In 1809, the seat of the Ohio 
gDVemment was tiansfened thither, and Zanesville grew rapidly until the state 
capitol was removed to Columbus, when it declined slowly, being now a place of 
little importance. — Ed. 

' Major Joseph Lincoln was a Revolutionary soldier of note, who came out 
with Putnam's &rst colony to found Marietta. During the Indian wars he lived 
at Fanner'a Castle; but about 1795 engaged in business at Marietta, in which he 
was quite successful, erecting in tSo; the finest building in the town. Hia death 
occurred soon after Cuming's visit. — Ed. 

I 26 

Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

the river directiy after dinner prevented his being favoured 
with our company at his house. 

Two block houses still remain in Marietta, out of which 
it was very unsafe to go singly previous to Wayne's treaty, 
as the Indians were always lurking about, on the watch to 
shoot and scalp, when such opportunities were given them, 
and in which they were frequently but too successful. 

Vienna — Belle-pres — Little Kenhawa river 

Blennerhassett's island, hand- 

Trade wind 

— Browning's tavern 
some seat and fine farm 

At half past two we proceeded from Marietta, accom- 
panied by a Mr. Fry, a genteel and well informed young 
lawyer, from the vicinity of Boston, in search of an establish- 
ment in some part of this new country. We had also as a 
passenger, a countryman, by trade a house caqjenter, who 
resided in Virginia, [108] about fifty miles lower down the 
river, and was returning home after a trip up and down the 
Muskingum as one of the crew of a keel boat. 

There was a fresh S. W. wind, which is a trade wind on the 
Ohio every day during summer, generally commencing about 
eight o'clock in the morning, and ceasing about five in the 
afternoon, during which a boat with a sail could ascend 
against the stream, from two to five miles an hour, in pro- 
portion to the force of the wind ; on which account I would 
recommend it to navigators ascending the Mississippi and 
the Ohio in the summer season, to be provided with a sail, 
as it will accelerate their voyage very much, besides saving 
them a great deal of labour. 

It blew so fresh this afternoon, that even with the aid of 
our passengers, and a strong favourable current, we could 
scarcely make any progress against the wind, which also 
occasioned a considerable roughness of the water. By 



Cuming's Tour to the West 


dint however of perseverance we advanced a little, passing, 
three miles below Marietta, Muskingum island, two 
miles long, and uncultivated, and a mile beyond that, 
Second island, a fine litUe uncultivated island, three quar- 
ters of a mile long. 

Two miles from hence, we passed on the left, a small 
setdement of six or eight cabins, called Vienna, which does 
not appear to be flourishing; and half a mile lower on the 
right, Coles's tavern, a very good square roofed house; a 
litde beyond which is Third island, a mile long, and the be- 
ginning of the fine setdement of Belle-prfes on the right, and 
a mile lower down, Little Kenhawa river on the left.*' 
This is a handsome little river, about eighty yards wide, 
with a placid stream. It has Wood county court house, and 
a tavern, on the right bank of its embouchure. 

We landed on the right at Browning's tavern,** a good 
house and pleasant situation, almost opposite [109] the 
Little Kenhawa. Several travellers sat down with us to an 
excellent supper, amongst whom were a merchant from 
Lexington, a travelling speculator and well digger from 
French Grant, and a Mr. Smith from Cincinnati, who was 
deputed by the marshal of Virginia to collect evidence for 
the trial of Col. Burr, and his associates at Richmond. 

Leaving Browning's tavern on Friday, 24th July, at six 

" The island at the point is still called Cole's, or Viemia, Island. For sketch 
of the Little E^nawha, see Croghan's Jouniali, vol. i of this series, p. tjo, note q8. 

Belprj (coolraction of Belle Prairie) was the site chosen (ot the second separate 
community ot the Ohio Company of Associates, being laid out 1789-90. The 
first town meeting was held in 1S03. Belpr^'s chief title to fame is the fact Chat 
there was established (about 1795) the first drcuiating librai? in the Northwest 
Territory. The son of Israel Putnam brought out a portion of his father's library, 
and formed a stock company la which shares were sold at ten dollars each. The 
company was dissolved (1815 or 1816), and among the stockholders were distributed 
the books, some of which are still to be found in the neighboring farmhouses. — Gd. 

" William Browning came to Marietta from Massachusetts tn 1789, and shortly 
after married a daughter of General Rufus Putnani, settling at Be]pr6, where be 
died in 1813.— Ed. 

Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

o'clock, without our passengers, in twenty minutes after, we 
had advanced a mOe and three quarters, and landed on the 
north side of Blennerhasset's island, a quarter of a mile 
below the eastern end. 

On ascending the bank from the landing, we entered at a 
handsome double gate, with hewn stone square pilasters, a 
gravel walk, which led us about a hundred and fifty paces, 
to Mr. Blennerhasset's house, with a meadow on the left, 
and a shrubbery on the right, separated from the avenue 
by a low hedge of privy-sally, through which innumerable 
columbines, and various other hardy flowers were displaying 
themselves to the sun, at present almost their only observer. 

We were received with politeness by Mrs. Gushing, whose 
husband, Col. Gushing, has a lease of this extensive and well 
cultivated farm, where he and his family now reside in 
preference to his own farm at Belle-prfe. 

The house occupies a square of about fifty-four feet each 
side, is two stories high, and in just proportion. On the 
ground floor is a dining room of twenty-seven feet by twenty, 
with a door at each end communicating with two small 
parlours, in the rear of each of which is another room, one of 
which was appropriated by Mr. B. for holding a chymical 
apparatus, and as a dispensary for drugs and medicines. 

The stair case is spacious and easy, and leads to a very 
handsome drawing room over the dining room, of the same 
dimensions. It is half arched round the [no] cornices and 
the ceiling is finished in stucco. The hangings above the 
chair rail are green with gilt border, and below a reddish 
grey. The other four rooms on the same floor correspond 
exactly with those below, and are intended either for bed 
chambers, or to form a suit with the drawing room. 

The body of the house is connected with two wings, by 
a semicircular portico or corridor running from each front 
comer. In one wing is the kitchen and scullery, and in the 
other was the library, now used as a lumber room. 



Cuming's Tour to the West 


It is to be regretted that so tasty and so handsome a house 
had not been constructed of more lasting materials than 

The shrubbery was well stocked with flowery shrubs 
and all the variety of evergreens natural to this climate, 
as well as several exoticks, surrounds the garden, and has 
gravel walks, labyrinth fashion, winding through it. 

The garden is not large, but seems to have had every 
delicacy of fruit, vegetable, and flower, which this fine 
climate and luxurious soil produces. In short, Blenner- 
hasset's island is a most charming retreat for any man of 
fortune fond of retirement, and it is a situation perhaps not 
exceeded for beauty in the western world. It wants how- 
ever the variety of mountain — precipice — cateract — dis- 
tant prospect, &c. which constitute the grand and sublime. 

The house was finished in a suitable style, but all the 
furniture and moveables were attached by the creditors to 
whom Mr. B. had made himself liable by endorsing Col. 
Burr's bills, and they were lately sold at pubHck auction at 
Wood county court house, for perhaps less than one twen- 
tieth of their first cost." 

" This description of the Blennerhassclt place so soon after the familj were 
forced to abaadon the island, is of espedal interest. The story of Haiman Blen- 
nerhasseti is one of ihe best-known in Western annaJs. He was an Irish gentleman 
of fortuoe and culture, who because of his republican principles emigrated to Ameri- 
ca. Id I ;g8 he bought this beautiful island in the Ohio, and prepared it for a 
borne for his family. Channing and accomplished, he and his wife occupied ihem- 
■elves in beautifying Ihe place, in generous and lavish hospitality, and in sdentific 
investigation. Unfortunately BIcnncrbassett was tempted to embrace the schemes 
of Aaron Butt, and involved his entire estate in that enterprise. Late in 1S06 
rumors of treason grew so strong that Blennerhassett was obliged to escape from 
his island, which was shortly overrun with local militia, who wantonly destroyed 
much property and insulted Mrs. Blennerhassett. The place had been left to the 
care of Colonel Nathaniel Gushing, who, after distinguished service in the Revolu- 
tion, bad removed to the Ohio, and having settled near Belprf, was a neighbor and 
wattn friend of the Blennerhassells. The &ie mansion was burned in iSii by the 
caickssoess of negroes, and but little js now left of the estate which had been laid 
out with so much care and taste. For descriptioD of Ihe present condition of the 
island, see Thwaitea, On Ike Storied Ohio.— Ed. 

B^rly Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

Mrs. Gushing described Mrs. B. as beautiful and highly 
accomplished, about thirty years of age, and mother of two 
infant sons now with her at Natchez. 

[ill] After passing an hour in this delightful spot, we 
left it with regret that such a terrestrial paradise should be 
deserted by an owner who had taste to blend judiciously 
the improvements of art with the beauties of nature. Its 
fertihty will always ensure its cultivation, but without a 
Horace it must cease to be a TivoU, 

Litde and Big Hockocking rivers — Belleville, and Mr. 
Wild's on Mr. Avery's large farm — Devil's hole — 
Shade river — Buflington's island — Neisanger's. 

We dropped down the stream gently three miles, to the 
end of Blennerhasset's island, a little beyond which, on the 
Ohio shore, we observed a very good looking two story 
Ivick house, which as we had been informed, is an excellent 
tavern owned and kept by Mr. Miles, but we were not 
tempted to stop, as we had already breakfasted on bread 
and TTiOk in our skiff. Two mUes and a quarter below 
Miles's we passed Litde Hockhocking river on the right. 
It is about twenty-five yards wide, and has a wooden bridge 
across it, and on its right bank is a large square roofed house, 
handsomely situated. 

A mile and a half below Little Hockhocking, we saw on 
our right a remarkable cavern on the side of a craggy hiU^ 
and four miles lower, having passed Newbury and Musta- 
pha's islands, the latter of which is above a mile in length, 
and partly cultivated, we came to big Hockhocking river on 
the right.*' It is only about thirty yards wide at its mouth, 
nevertheless it is navigable for keels and other small craft 

" For the Hodcbockiog River, see Crogha^'s Jourwdi, n>t. 1 of Uiit series, p. 
131, note 99- — Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


[1 1 2] nearly seventy miles, a little above which highest point 
of navigation, is situated the flourishing town of New 

Two miles and a half below Hockhocking a rivulet called 
Lee's creek, puts in from the Virginia side, and half a mUe 
further on the same side, is the village of Belleville, or 
Belle-prfe, finely situated on a high bank, commanding a 
good view of the river both ways. There are here only four 
or five cabins occupied by hunters and labourers, and a 
tolerably good wooden house owned by a Mr. Avery from 
New-London in Connecticut, who purchased a tract here 
of five miles front on the river, and commenced this set- 
tlement about eleven years ago, but going largely into ship 
building, he was so unfortunate in that business, that in 
consequence he is now confined for debt in Wood county 

A Mr. Wild, from Durham in Connecticut, who has been 
five years here, resides in Mr. Avery's house, and cultivates 
the farm, which is on a handsome plain running back from 
the river, on which he has this season seventy acres of com 
and fifty of wheat, besides a large proportion of meadow. 
He was very civil to us, insisting with much hospitality on 
our taking some refreshment. 

Last fall Mr. Avery's bam with two thousand bushels 
of grain, several stacks of grain, and a horse, grist and saw 
mills, were burnt by incendiaries, who, though known, could 
not be brought to justice for want of positive proof. 

From Little Hockhocking the right bank is hilly and 
broken, and the left an extensive bottom; both sides very 
thinly inhabited, to ten miles below Belleville, in the last 
seven we not having observed a single [113] cabin, though 
the land is level and rich. 1 cannot account for the right 
shore not being settled, as it is part of the Ohio Company's 
purchase; but the reason on the Virginia side is, that the 

I 3 z Early Western Travels [VoL 4 

heirs of general Washington to whom that valuable tract 
descended on his death, ask for it no less than ten dollars 
per acre, so that it will probably remain in its savage state 
as long as land can be purchased cheaper in its neighbour- 
hood, notwithstanding its good situation and its excellent 

After leaving Belleville we saw several bald eagles hover- 
ing about us. They are about the size of large crows, and 
when on the wing have their tails spread out in the form of a 

About the middle of this uninhabited tract, we observed 
on our right a very remarkable large cavern called Devil's 
hole: It is in the face of a rock about half way up a steep hill 
close to the river. About fifty rods further on the same hand 
we passed Shade river, which is a considerable stream, ^lnd 
apparently very deep. During the war with the Indians, a 
detachment of the Kentucky militia, ascended this river, 
landed and destroyed some Indian encampments, but 
effected nothing of moment. 

Five miles below Shade river, we came to BuflSngton's 
island, which is partly cultivated and is about two miles 
long. Though that on the left is the ship channel, we 
chose the one on the right, as it presented a long narrow 
vista, which promised the strongest current: We found it 
however very shallow, but beautifully picturesque. The 
river above the island is about a quarter of a mile wide, but 
below, it is contracted to about two hundred yards, and four 
miles lower, it is only one hundred and twenty. 

Though the river continues narrow, yet probably from 

" WaahinpoD admonished his executors in his will, not to dispose of these 
lands too cheaply, and suggested a sate pnce of ten dollars per acre. This patticu- 
lar tract became the properly ot six of his grand-nieces, two of whom (named 
Fitzhugh) later settled in the vicioity. — Ed. 

" The bald or white-headed eagie (haliailiu Uucoaphoiut), the AmecicAD 
national symbol. — Eo. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


the depth of its bed the velocity of the current was not 
increased for a mile and a quarter further to [114] Peter 
Neisanger's fine farm, where we stopped at half past seven 

Fastening our skiff to a tree, we ascended the steep sloping 
bank to the house, where we were received with cautious 
taciturnity by Mrs. Neisanger, whose ungracious reception 
would have induced us to have proceeded further, had not 
the evening been too far advanced for us to arrive at better 
quarters before dark; and besides the state of our stomachs 
rendered us insensible to an uncourteous reception: We 
determined therefore to make our quarters good, though 

a few minutes after, friend A , repented of our resolution, 

on seeing a figure scarcely meriting the name of human ap- 
proaching him, where he had gone alone in quest of some 
of the males of the family. It had the appearance of a 
man above the middle age, strong and robust, fantastically 
covered with ragged cloathing, but so dirty that it was im- 
possible to distinguish whether he was naturally a white 
or an Indian — in either case he equally merited the ap- 
pellation of savage. A , accosted him as lord of the 

soil, but he did not deign any reply, on which he returned 
to me, where I was in the boat adjusting our baggage, to 
consult with me whether we had not better proceed farther; 
but first resolving to make one more attempt, we again 
mounted the bank and found two men with rifles in 
their hands sitting at the door, neither of whose aspects, 
nor the circumstance of their being armed, were very 
inviting: As however we did not see the strange apparition 

which A , had described to me, we ventured to accost 


" Peler Neiaaoger (or Niswonger) joined the Marietta colony in 1790. He 
was employed thereby as a ranger, and the succeeding year gave Cimcty warning 
lo the people aisctabled at a church service of a threatened Indian raid. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 


The elder of the two was Neisanger. — Though he did 
not say us "nay" to our request of supper, his "yea" was 
in the very extreme of bluntness, and without either the 
manner or expression which sometimes merits its having 
joined to it the adjective konest. 

[115] They kid aside their rifles, and supper being an- 
nounced by the mistress of the cabin, we made a hearty 
meal on her brown bread and milk, while she attended her 
self-important lord with all due humility, as Sarah did 
Abraham; which patriarchal record in the scriptures, is 
perhaps the original cause of a custom which I have ob- 
served to be very common in the remote parts of the United 
States, of the wife not sitting down to table until the husband 
and the strangers have finished their meal. 

During supper, Mr. Neisanger gradually relaxed from 
his blunt and cautious brevity of speech, and we gathered 
from him that he had been a great hunter and woodsman, in 
which occupation, he said that one man may in one season 
kill two hundred deer and eighty bears. 

He had changed his pursuit of the wild inhabitants of the 
forest about nine years ago, for an agricultural life. Since 
that time he had cleared a large tract of land, had planted 
three thousand fruit trees on his farm, and had carried 
on a distillery of whiskey and peach brandy, for the first 
of which he gets seventy-five cents per gallon, and for the 
last a dollar. 

After supper we took leave of this Nimrod of the west 
without much regret, as our seats while under his roof had 
not been the most easy to us, and we returned to our boat 
with more pleasure than we had done heretofore. 

We betook ourselves to rest on our platform, lulled to 
repose by the mournful hooting of the owl, whose ill omened 
note was amply compensated for by the delightful melody 

i8o7-i8of)] Cuming's Tour to ike West 


of the red bird, who awoke us at early dawn with his grateful 
welcome to the returning day." 

From hence to Clarksburgh in Virginia is only seventy- 
five miles. 

Old town creek, and a floating mill — Take two passengers, 
both curious characters — Laughable anecdote of a 
panick — Some of the customs of the backwoodsmen ^ 
Their fondness for, and mode of fighting — Their disre- 
gard of being maimed, illustrated by an anecdote — Le 
Tart's falls — Graham's station — Jones's rocks. 
Proceeding on Saturday 25th July at 5 in the morning — 
at six we were three miles below Neisanger's, abreast of 
Old town creek on the right, and a floating mill owned by an 
Irishman named Pickets. These kind of mills are of a 
very simple construction — the whole machinery being in a 
flat, moored to the bank, and the stones being put in motion 
by the current. They have but little power, not being 
capable of grinding more than from fifteen to twenty bushels 
of wheat per day. 

We were here hailed by two men who offered to work 
their passage to the falls. We took them on board, and one 
proved to be one Bufllington, son to the owner of Buffing- 
ton's island, from whom Pickets had purchased his farm 
and mill, and the other was an eccentrick character, being 
an old bachelor, without any fixed place of abode, residing 
sometimes with one farmer and sometimes with another, be- 
tween Marietta and Galliopolis, and making a good deal 
of money by speculating in grain, horses, hogs, cattle, or 
any thing he can buy cheap and sell dear. 

Buffington was a very stout young man, and was going 
to the falls to attend a gathering (as they phrase it in this 

" Tfae red-bird was cither the scarlet lanager {piranga rubra), or the carduul 
grosbeak {cardinalii virginianus). both of which frequent the Ohio shores. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

country) at a justice's court, which squire Sears, who 
resides at the falls, holds on the last Saturday of every month: 
He supposed there would be sixty or seventy men there — 
some plaintiffs, and some defendants in causes of small 
debts, actions of defamation, assaults, &c. and some to 
wrestle, fight, [i 1 7] shoot at a mark with the rifle for wagers, 
gamble at other games, or drink whiskey. He had his rifle 
with him and was prepared for any kind of frolick which 
might be going forward. He was principally induced to 
go there from having heard that another man who was to 
be there, had said that he could whip him (the provincial 
phrase for beat.) After his frolick was ended he purposed 
returning home through the woods. 

He related a laughable story of a panick which seized 
the people of his neighbourhood about two years ago, occa- 
sioned by a report being spread that two hundred Indians 
were encamped for hostile purposes on the banks of Shade 

The Pickets's and some others not accustomed to Indian 
war, forted themselves, and hired Buffington to go and 
reconnoitre. He hunted, and, to use his own language, 
fooled in the woods three or four days; then returned late in 
the evening to his own house, and discharged his two rifles, 
giving the Indian yell after each, which so terrified the party 
forted at Pickets's, that the centinels threw down their 
rifles, and ran into the river up to the belts of their hunting 
shirts. The whole party followed — crossed the Ohio in 
canoes, and alarmed the Virginia side by reporting that 
Buffington's wife, and some others, who had not been forted, 
were shot and scalped by the Indians; but when the truth 
came out, they were much ashamed. 

Buffington deals in cattle and hogs, which he occasionally 
drives to the south branch of the Potomack, where they find 
a ready market for the supply of Baltimore and the sea 


1807-1809] Cuming* s Tour to the West 


coast. The common price here is about three dollars per 


Two or three j 

when bear skins were worth from 

e years ago whi 

six to ten dollars each, he and another man killed one hun- 
dred and thirty-five bears in six weeks. 

[118] It may not be improper to mention, that the back- 
woodsmen, as the first emigrants from the eastward of the 
Allegheny mountains are called, are very similar in their 
habits and manners to the aborigines, only perhaps more 
prodigal and more careless of life. They depend more on 
hunting than on agriculture, and of course are exposed 
to all the varieties of climate in the open air. Their cabins 
are not better than Indian wigwams. They have frequent 
meetings for the purposes of gambling, fighting and drinking. 
They make bets to the amount of all they possess. They 
fight for the most trifling provocations, or even sometimes 
without any, but merely to try each others prowess, which 
they are fond of vaunting of. Their hands, teeth, knees, 
head and feet are their weapons, not only boxing with their 
fists, (at which they are not to be compared for dexterity, 
to the lower classes in the seaports of either the United 
States, or the British islands in Europe) but also tearing, 
kicking, scratching, biting, gouging each others eyes out 
by a dexterous use of a thumb and fi^nger, and doing 
their utmost to kill each other, even when rolling over one 
another on the ground ; which they are permitted to do by 
the byestanders, without any interference whatever, until 
one of the parties gives out, on which they are immedi- 
ately separated, and if the conqueror seems inclined to 
follow up his victory without granting quarter, he is gen- 
erally attacked by a fresh man, and a pitched battle be- 
tween a single pair often ends in a battle royal, where all 
present are engaged. 

A stranger who had kept aloof during a fray of this kind. 


Early Western Travels 


when it was over, seeing a man with the top of his nose bit 
oflf, he approached him and commiserated his misfortune. 
' ' Don't pity me,' ' said the noseless hero, ' ' pity that fellow 
there," pointing with one hand to another who had lost 
an eye, and [119] shewing the eye which he held trium- 
phantly in the other." 

* This indeed is a most lamentable picture of the depravity of human nature, 
and might have applied better fifteen or menty years ago than al present. But 
our author ought to have confined it to a farlicuiar frontier, and to a/«iii individuals; 
for it is by no means the characler of aii our backwoodsmen, nor are such ferocious 
and nore than bcast-Iikc battles customary on the bordeia of all oui frontier set- 
tlements. Nor canjwe believe even the more profligate amoag the class here spoken 
of, would purposely meet (unless indeed in an actual stale of warfare) to fight, to 
gouge, and to tear each others Sesb to pieces in the manner described; but that 
fighting, gouging, &c. might be the comtqutnee of such meetings and carousings, we 
have little doubt, especial]]' where whiskey is the common drink of the country. 
There are always a few diabolically wicked in ail sodelies of men, rude or civilized; 
but it would be unjust to libel a tuhok community because of the wickedness and 
profligacy of a /eiu. 

It is observable that European travellers frequently misrepresent us by giving 
for a general character, that which is parlicular^ hence they mislead their readers 
into the most monstrous blunders as respects the true features of our national 
character, while they do us a greater piece of injustice than they might have in- 
tended. As an instance of this the following quotation from "Valney's View of 
Ike Vnittd Stales," will suffice: Speaking of the Philadelphia mode of eating and 
drinking, he observes: 

"At breakfast they deluge the stomach with a pint of hoi water, slightly impreg- 
nated with tea, or slightly tinctured, or rather coloured, with coSee; and they 
swallow, almost without mastication, hot bread, half baked, soaked in melted 
butter, with the grossest cheese, and salt or hung beef, pickled pork or fish, all 
which can with difficulty be dissolved. 

"At dinner they devour boiled pastes, called, absurdly, pudding garnished 
with the most luscious sauces. Their turnips and other vegetables are Soated in 
lard or butter. Their pastry is nothing but a greasy paste, imperfectly baked. 
To digest these various substances, they take tea, imtnedialely ajler dinner, so 
strong that it is bitter to the taste, as well as utterly destructive of the nervous sys- 
tem. Supper presently follows, with salt meat and shell fish in its train. Thui 

passes the whole day, in heaping one indigestii 
exhausted stomach, wine, nun, gin, mall spirits, o 

1 am a native American, have passed through tc 
never drank, nor saw drunk, at either publick o 
ajler dinner," 
think I have 

lost of the American states, and 

private table, "lea immediaUly 

:ver heard of a practice of the kind in any of the states, hence I 

to conclude Mr. Volney erroneous in giving this as the general 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


[120] Eight miles below Old-town creek we were carried 
through Le Tart's falls at the rate of six knots an hour, but 
the rapid, which it ought to be called more properly than 
falls, is not more than half a mile long. 

Captain or squire Sears's house, opposite to which we 
landed our passengers, is very pleasantly situated on the 
left shore, commanding a view of two islands above the 
falls, the nearest one in cultivation, — the opposite shore 
variegated with low hills and valleys, woods, cultivated 
fields and farm houses, a new water mill which he is build- 
ing on the right bank of the rapid, and the river below, 
taking a sudden bend from N. W. to N. E. by N. 

A mile and a half lower down we observed a large barge 
on the stocks in the woods on the right bank. 

Four miles from the falls we came to Graham's station, 
which is a fine populous settlement, extending about three 
miles along the left bank of the river, from West creek to 
Wolfe's farm house, which is charmingly situated on a cliff. 
The Ohio side opposite is also well settled. 

On passing Wolfe's we asked a man at the door who 
it was that lived there: He informed us, and [121] civilly 
invited us to land and quench our thirst at a fine spring 
on the beach; but we declined stopping, as we had filled 
our water cask at Pickets's mill. 

There is a ferry across the Ohio about the middle of 
Graham's station, which connects a road from Big to Little 

custom of a people; and thick i[ probable be drew hia conclusions from the particM- 
loT practice of a l«w families, in which he might have lodged; and which might have 
altered their usual mode of eating and drinking, in order to accommodate the sup- 
posed habits of this great traveller, he being a native of France, where it is well 
known coSe« is much used after dinner. How much more would the publtclc 
be benefitted by the remarks of travellers on the manners and customs of countries, 
would they divest themselves of their prejudices, passions, and partialities, and 
confine themselves to the relation of simple truths. Mcthinks a traveller who in- 
tends to publish his (t&vels, ought to be a philesophtr, in the true sense of the 
word. — Crauek. 


Rarly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

Kenhawa, sixteen miles to the fonner and thirty to the lat- 

Nine miles below Wolfe's, Jones's rocks, on a hill on the 
right have a striking appearance. They are of freestone, 
bare, and heaped upon each other, resembling some of the old 
Turkish fortifications so numerous in the Levant. 

On a small bottom between them and the river, in a very 
romantick situation, is a farm, seven years old, belonging 
to a Mr. Jones, who informed us that there is a vein of good 
coal about a quarter of a mile from his house. 

This was the first house we had observed for the last eight 
miles, though the land on the Virginia side, owned by one 
Waggoner, seems to be of the first quality. 

Fine situations and well inhabited banks — A gay party — 
Slate and coal strata — Point Pleasant — River Ken- 
hawa — Battle of Point Pleasant — Lord Dunmore's 
campaign against the Indians — Indians justified — Rea- 
sons why there are but few writers in their favour — 
Short account of the causes of the last Indian war, and 
the settlement of Kentucky. 

Two miles and a half below Jones's is Leading creek, 
a beautiful little river with high sloping banks on the right, 
and just below it a Mr. Kerr has a good log house, and a 
garden with a handsome stoccado [122] fence, behind which 
is a small cleared farm. A vein of coal is said to be on the 
Virginia side opposite, not much approved of by the black- 
smiths, probably because not wrought deep enough. Three 

" Rev. William Graham, who had been for twenty-one years president ot the 
fiist academy west ot the Blue Ridge, becoming imbued with a missionary spirit, 
bought six thousand acres of the Washington lands and attempted to found a 
Presbyterian coiony thereon. He brought out several families in 1798, but returning 
the next year died at Richmond, whereupon his colonists grew discouraged and 
withdrew. The place, however, bos retained to this day its name of Graham's 
SlatioD.— Eu. 


1807-180Q] Cuming's Tour to the West 


miles further on the right is a very good, new, two story 
house, clapboarded, and painted white, and a large horse 
mill; and half a mile lower on the opposite shore is a large 
unfinished house, lately purchased by a Mr. Long from 
Col. Clendinning, who began to buOd it nine years ago." 
It resembles a church, and is not only a good feature in the 
prospect, but impresses the traveller with lively ideas of the 
advanced state of population of the neighbouring country. — 
Close to it is a small hamlet, or quarter, of a few cabins, the 
whole in a beautiful situation on a high bank commanding 
a view of Eight Mile island, just below, and both banks of 
the river, which are here well inhabited and very pleasant. ' 

Two miles lower is Six Mile island, very small, and half 
a mile beyond it on the left is a house most delightfully 
situated, commanding the whole vista of the river seven 
miles up to Leading creek, with the two intermediate 
islands. The house is sheltered from the northern blasts 
of winter by a fine grove purposely left standing, when the 
surrounding farm was cleared. 

I observed that in general, from Le Tart's falls, trees 
were left standing very tastily in places where they can have 
a good or pleasing effect, particularly the gigantick beeches 
along the margin of the river. 

About a mile lower down, we met a large canoe, paddled 
against the stream by five well drest young men, while a 
respectable looking elderly man steered. They had five 
very smart looking girls with them, and, from their gaiety, 
were apparently returning from some frolick — the epithet 
used in this country for all neighbourly meetings for the 

" Colonel George Clendennin, a prominent pioneer o( Western Vifginia, was 
bom in Scotland in J746. His first services in the West were in Colonel Lewis's 
•rmy at the baltle of Point Pleasoni (1774). Later he bought the site of Charleston, 
West Virginia, und laid out the town (17SS). The house on the Ohio which Cuni' 
ing saw had been built by ClenttcDnin in 1796; the following year, however, he 
died al Marietta. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 


purpose of tissisting each other in finishing some domestick 
or farming [123] business, which generally conclude with 
feasting and dancing, which sometimes lasts two or three 
days, and is not seldom the fruitful source of many a tender 
and lasting connexion. 

Near this we perceived a stratum of slate over one of coal, 
but the latter too much under the level of the river to be 
wrought. The slate stratum extends several rods, and is 
topped and squared as if done by art. 

It may not be amiss to remark that all strata throughout 
the whole of this western country, have been hitherto found 
to be horizontal. 

The banks from hence four miles to Point Pleasant are 
apparently rich with good bottoms on both sides, yet but 
thinly inhabited. 

Point Pleasant, where wc arrived at seven o'clock in the 
evening, is beautifully situated on a bank, at least forty 
feet above the common level of the Ohio, at the conflux of 
the Great Kenhawa with that river. It contains twenty-one 
indifferent houses, including a court house of square logs, 
this being the seat of justice of Mason county. The town 
does not thrive on account of the adjacent country not set- 
tling so fast as the opposite side in the state of Ohio, where 
lands can be bought in small tracts for farms, by real set- 
tlers, at a reasonable rate, whereas the Virginia lands belong- 
ing mostly to wealthy and great landholders, are held at 
four or five times the Ohio price. 

The river Ohio is here six hundred yards wide, and the 
Kenhawa is two hundred and twenty-five, the latter naviga- 
ble about eighty miles to the falls. 

On the loth of October, 1774, a battle was fought here by 
the Virginia and Pennsylvania militia under general Lewis, 
against the Indians, who had attacked them in great force, 
but were defeated and compelled to retreat across the Ohio, 


1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the Pf^esi 143 

carrying their dead and wounded with them according to 
their invariable custom; as, like the ancient Greeks, they 
deem it an [124] irreparable disgrace, to leave the unburied 
bodies of their slain fellow warriours to the disposal of the 
victorious enemy. The Americans bought their victory at 
the expense of a number of their most active men, amongst 
whom was Col. Lewis, brother to the general, a brave and 
enterprizing officer. They were buried near the edge of the 
river bank, which has since mouldered away, occasionally 
discovering their remains to the present inhabitants, who 
have always re-interred them. 

This was a military station above thirty years ago. It is 
twenty years since it was laid out for a town, but it had no 
houses erected in consequence until after Wayne's Indian 
treaty, it being unsafe before to live outside the stoccado. 

Lord Dunmore, who was then govemour of Virginia, and 
commander in chief on the expedition against the Indians, 
at the time of the battle of Point Pleasant, had penetrated 
by the way of Wheeling across the Ohio, to within a short 
march of their principal settlement, near where Chilicothe 
now is; when, instead of following up Lewis's success, 
while they were yet under the influence of the panick occa- 
sioned by it, and by his lordship's approach with the main 
body of the militia, and of exterminating them, or of driving 
them out of the country, he received their submission and 
patched up a treaty with them, which they observed no 
longer than during the short time that he continued with a 
military force in their country, for which he was much blamed 
by the back settlers and hunters. Humanity, however, 
must plead his excuse with every thinking or philosophick 
mind; and volumes might be written to prove the justice 
of the Indian cause; but m all national concerns, it has 
never been controverted by the history of mankind from 
the earliest ages of which we have any record, but that in- 


Karly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

terest and power always went hand in hand to serve the 
mighty against the [125] weak, and writers are never want- 
ing to aid the cause of injustice, barbarity and oppression, 
■with the sophistry of a distorted and unnatural philosophy ; 
while the few who would be willing to espouse the rights of 
the feeble, have not enough of the spirit of chivalry, to 
expose themselves to an irreparable loss of time, and the 
general obloquy attending an unpopular theme: even in 
this so much boasted land of liberty and equality, where 
nothing is to be dreaded from the arbitrary acts of a king 
and council during a suspension of a habeas corpus law, 
or the mandate of an arbitrary hero in the full tide of vic- 

Is not popular opinion frequently as tyrannical as star 
chambers, or lettres de cachets ? 

The Indians north of the Ohio, under the name of the 
Five Nations, and their dependants, had been gradually, but 
rapidly, forced back more and more remote from the country 
of their ancestors, by the irresistible and overswelUng tide 
of papulation of Europeans and their descendants. They 
at Ijist abandoned all the continent of America east of the 
great chain of the Allegheny mountains, to the enlightened 
intruders, and besides that natural barrier, they added an 
immense wilderness of nearly five hundred miles in breadth, 
west of those mountains, to the space which divided them ; 
settling themselves in that country which has since become 
the state of Ohio, having Lake Erie for its northern boun- 
dary, and the river Ohio for its southern. The woods and 
savannahs to the southward of that river abounded in 
game, such as buffaloes, deer, elk, bears, and innumerable 
smaller animals, valuable for their flesh, skins, and furs. 
They were tempted to make hunting excursions into this 
country, during which they frequently met with parties of 
hunters of other Indian nations, called Chocktaws, Chicka- 


Cuming's Tour to the West 


saws, and Cherokees, who resided far south of it, but who 
had been accustomed to consider it as their exclusive prop- 
erty [126] for hunting in, from time immemorial. Battles 
with various success were generally the consequence of 
those meetings. The southern Indians were the most 
numerous — the northern the most warlike. 

Finding that they exhausted each other to no purpose, 
by such constant hostility, necessity at last obliged them to 
make a peace, the basis of which was, that the hunting 
country should be common to both as such, to the exclusion 
of all other people, and that neither would ever settle on it 
themselves, nor permit others to do so. 

They enjoyed in quiet the uninterrupted use of this im- 
mense common forest, for many years after; but the Vir- 
ginians having extended their settlements to the westward of 
the mountains, the frontier inhabitants, who, like the abo- 
rigines, supported themselves principally by hunting, were 
led in quest of game, as far west as the banks of Kentucky 
river, in the very centre of the Indian hunting country. 

On their return to their settlements, the report spread 
from them to the colonial government, that they had dis- 
covered a country most abundant in game, and far exceeding 
in natural fertility any of the settled parts of Virginia. 

Small armed parties were sent out to establish block- 
houses for the protection of hunters or settlers, while the 
lands were divided into tracts and granted or sold to pro- 
prietors, as suited the convenience of the government. 

The Indians, indignant at being followed to so remote a 
part of the continent, after the great sacrifice to peace 
before made by them in the abandonment of their native 
country, did their utmost to repel the invaders. The 
northern tribes were the most ferocious and the most exas- 
perated, and sometimes alone, and sometimes aided by 
their southern auxiliaries, carried on a most bloody and 

146 Early Western Travels [Vol 4 

exterminating war against all the whites who had the 
temerity to brave [137] their decided and fixed determination 
to adhere to their mutual guar^lntee of their hunting grounds. 

Much blood was shed on both sides, and many parties 
of the whites were cut off, but their perseverance at last 
prevailed, and Kentucky became one of the United States 
of America. 

The negro who carried our baggage from the boat to the 
tavern, regretted much that we had not arrived a little 
earlier in the day, to get some of the people's money who 
had been assembled at a gathering. On our inquiring 
"how" — he replied by asking if we were not play-actors, 
and if we had not got our puppetshew things in some of the 
trunks and boxes we had with us. He had probably con- 
ceived this idea from our having in the skiff a large box of 
medicines, which we had taken in at Marietta for a doctor 
Merrit at French Grant, and besides we had more baggage 
than it was usual for him to see carried by travellers, who 
had occasion to stop at Point Pleasant. 

Our landlord's name was John Allen, a young man, who 
had lived here since his infancy twenty years. — On a late 
journey to Richmond he had married a young woman there, 
who sat at supper with us, but who seemed to wish to appear 
rather above the doing the honours of a tavern table. He 
had lately been chosen one of the members of the legisla- 
ture for Mason county, and seemed fond of discussing poli- 
ticks, but apparently more for the sake of information, than 
for insisting dogmatically, according to the prevailing mode, 
on any opinion of his own. In short, he seemed to regret 
the blind illiberality of the improperly self-termed federalists, 
and of their equally prejudiced democratick antagonists, 
and seemed desirous of meriting the character of a disin- 
terested patriot, and a federal republican in its real and 
literal sense, without perhaps understanding either term. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


Galliopolis — A Canadian boat's crew — Menager's store 

and tavern — Mons. and Madame Marion — A family 

migrating from Baltimore — Red Birds — Meridian creek 

— Mercer's and Green's bottoms — Hanging rock — 

Federal creek — Bowden's. 

On Sunday 26th July, we left Point Pleasant, and passing 
Great Kenhawa river on our left, and Galliopolis island, 
half a mile long on the right, at 7 we landed on the Ohio 
side, at Galliopolis four miles below Point Pleasant. 

We found at the landing a keel loaded with lead from 
Kaskaskias on the Mississippi;" It was worked by eight 
stout Canadians, all naked, except a breech clout. They 
are the descendants of the original French settlers, and they 
resemble the Indians both in their manners and customs, and 
complexion; which last is occasioned by their being ex- 
posed naked to all weathers from their infancy ; which also 
renders them very hardy, and capable of enduring much 
fatigue. They are temperate in the use of spiritous liquors, 
while engaged in any laborious emplojmient, but they must 
be fed with double the quantity of food which would suffice 
American or English labourers. The meat which they pre- 
fer is bacon or salt pork, of which they use daily about four 
pounds each man, besides bread and potatoes. 

They are preferred to any other description of people 
for navigating the craft on the rivers in this country, being 
patient, steady, and trusty, and never deserting their boats 
until their engagement is fulfilled, which the American 
boatmen frequently do. 

We got an excellent breakfast at Mr. Menager's, a French 
emigrant, who keeps a tavern and a store of very well as- 
sorted goods, which he goes yearly to Baltimore to pur- 

" For the history of the French s^tllcment of KaakaakJa, see Michaux's Traotlt, 

s,p, 69, note 133.— Eo, 

148 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

chase. He is a native of Franche [129] Comtfe, and his 
wife is from Burgundy. They are very civil and obliging, 
and have a fine family. It is fifteen years since they arrived 
in this country, together with nearly 800 emigrants from 
France, of whom only about twenty families now remain at 
Galliopolis; the rest having either returned to France, 
descended the Ohio to French Grant, proceeded to the 
banks of the Mississippi, or fallen victims to the insalubrity 
of the climate, which however no longer, or only partially 
exists, as it has gradually ameliorated in proportion to the 
progress of settlement." 

Menager has a curious machine for drawing water from 
his well forty or fifty feet deep, and which will answer equally 
well for any depth. He got the model from Mr. Blenner- 
hasset. As I am not raechanick enough to give an ade- 
quate description of it, I shall only remark, that it is equally 
simple and ingenuous, and saves much labour; the full 
bucket flying up and emptying itself into a small wooden 
cistern, while the empty bucket sinks at the same time into 
the well, and that without being obliged to work a winch as 
in the common mode, where wells are too deep for pumps. 

In Galliopolis there are about fifty houses all of wood, 
in three long]]streets parallel to the river, crossed at right 
angles by six shorter ones, each one hundred feet wide. 
A spacious square is laid out in the centre, on which they 
are now making brick to build a court-bouse for Gallia 

During a walk through the town after breakfast, we were 
civilly accosted by an old man at the door of the most western 
house, who invited us to enter and rest ourselves. He was 

** For a history of Ihc settlement of GaJlipotis and the Frcni^h Grant, see Mi- 
chatlx's Travels, vol. iii of this series, pp. 181-1S5. 

Claudius R. Menager, one of the original emigrants, had been a baker, and made 
use of hia skill both as a merchant and tavern-keeper. He became the licbctt 
man in the colony, and died much respected. — ED. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


named Marion, and with his old wife, reminded me of Baucis 
and PhUemon, or of Darby and Joan. They came here with 
the first emigrants from Burgundy — bought some town 
lots, on which they planted fruit trees, and converted into 
com fields, as they could not procure tenants [130] nor pur- 
chasers to build on them. They have no children — they 
seem much attached to each other, and are healthy, and 
content with their situation. — They insisted with much 
hospitality on our tasting the old lady's manufacture of 
cherry bounce, before they knew that we could converse 
with them in their native tongue ; but, when they found that 
we could not only do so, but that I could make a subject of 
conversation of their own country, and even of their own 
province, from having visited it long since they had bid it a 
final adieu — it was with difficulty they would permit us to 
leave them, before we had sp)ent at least one day with them. 
Indeed I never saw the amor patriae more strongly mani- 
fested, than in the fixed and glistening eyes, which they 
rivetted on my face, whilst I described the present state of 
their provincial capital Dijon. 

Galliopolis abounds with fruit, to the planting of which, 
French settlers always pay great attention; but the town 
does not thrive, although very pleasantly situated on an 
extensive flat. 

Pursuing our voyage at ten o'clock, half a league below 
Galliopolis, we passed a sldfE containing a family, the head 
of which was a carpenter and farmer from Baltunore, going 
to Green river about five hundred miles lower down. 

At two o'clock we had rowed fourteen miles, having 
passed Racoon island and creek on the right, during which 
the bottom was so extensive on each side, that we could not 
see the tops of the river hills over the banks. We were 
here charmed with the melody of the red birds responding 
to each other from the opposite banks, particularly on passing 


Early Western Travels 


Racoon island. Our exercise having given us an appetite, 
we landed and dined under a shady bank on the right, 
opposite to a creek, which from that circumstance, and its 
not being noticed in our chart or Navigator, we named 
Meridian creek. 

[131] Here we began to see again the tops of the low 
river hills on the right, but on the left the extensive bottom 
still continued, notwithstanding which the settlements arc 
very thinly scattered, especially for the last eight miles. 

At half past two we were abreast of Eighteen mile creek 
on the right, so called from its being that distance from 
Point Pleasant. 

Five miles from where we dined is Swan creek, a hand- 
some rivulet on the right, and Mercer's bottom, a fine set- 
tlement on the left, and a mile further, it is separated from 
Green's bottom by the Little Guiandot, a beautiful small 

Green's bottom settlements, which are very fine and popu- 
lous, extend along the left bank three miles, and a mile 
beyond them the river hills approaching within a quarter 
of a mile of the bank, a remarkable cliff called the Hanging 
rock, impends from about half their height, and they 
again recede. On the right opposite to Hanging rock, 
is a bank of clay under which is a substratum of fine potter's 

It is two miles from Green's bottom to the next settle- 
ment. A gust threatening, we stopped to shelter at it — 
but the house was locked up, and no one at home. Every 
thing here testified to its being an honest neighbourhood, 
as the smoke-house was left open, with a quantity of fine 
bacon in it — a crib was full of com, and shirts and jackets 
were left drjdng on the garden fence. 

After the shower, we went on three miles to Miller's 
farm house at the mouth of Federal creek on the right, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVest 151 

where we landed and bought some salt pork for stores, and 
some milk for supper. Miller seems to be active and indus- 
trious, and keeps a keel boat for freighting on the river, 
but he says he gets very little encouragement.""* 

It was now half past six, and in an hour and three quarters 
we rowed eight miles further, when it coming [132] on dark, 
and I not being willing to lose the view of any part of the 
river, we stopped at Joel Bowden's tavern and farm on 
the right, contrary to A— -'s wish of letting the boat float 
down the current all night. Though we had provided our 
supper, yet we preferred ordering one at Bowden's, for the 
sake of whiling away a little time, and gaining information 
about the country. 

He had removed his family here from Marietta in April 
1806, and had to begin to clear away the forest to make 
room for a cabin, and he now has twelve acres completely 
cut, grubbed and smooth, and eight acres cut, but not 
grubbed, all planted and under fence, besides a natural 
orchard of sugar maple of seven acres, out of which he has 
cleared every thing else except about four hundred sugar 
trees, which will be enough to supply his family with sugar."' 

'°* Miller removed from Washington County, Pennsylvania, and was one of Ihe 
fiist Methodists of this part of West VJtpnia. Upon bis petition a preacher was 
ceni lo the backwoods settlements in 1803. Bishop Monis. an eminent divine 
of the same denomination, was bom here in 1798, and passed his early years in 
this vicinity. — Ed. 

'" Would it nol be a wise and prudent foresight in the present generation, in 
order thai posterity might continue (o enjoy the product of this invaluable tree, 
to plant orchards of them on the sides of untillable hills and other vacant grounds 
of little or no use 7 They might become a source of considerable wealth, in the 
course of twenty or thirty years, when the country gets thicldy populated, and the 
trees made scarce from the present plan of destroying them in clearing o( the lands. 
The expense of setting out an orchard of 500 or 1000 trees on each plantation, 
might cost, say, twenty-five cents each tree, together with the interest of the money 
for thirty years, at which period they would be worth about one dollar per year 
for about fifty or a hundred years thereafter. The following observations on the 
Maple tree, we copy from Dr. Mease's "Gtological account 0] Iht United Slaki." 

"The genus a««r, or maple, is useful for various purposes. The a. negundo, or 


Early Western Travels 


[133] He has also planted an apple and peach orchard 
and a nursery, and will cut six tons of hay this year. Such 
instances of industry and perseverance are frequently seen 
in this country amongst the New England settlers, of which 
Bowden is one, who are generally remarkably enterprising, 
and judiciously economical. His house not promising 
superior accommodation for sleep to our skiff, we re-em- 
barked after supper, and on our platform enjoyed undis- 
turbed repose, until five o'clock next morning, when we 
loosed from the bank, and proceeded at our usual rate of 
from three to four mUes an hour. 

white or ash leaved maple, is much used in cabinet work, being Grm and smooth> 
takes a &De polish, and stain. The a. mbrum, or scarlet maple, when sawed into 
boards, exhibits the most beautiful waving appearance, and makes aitides of fur- 
niture equal to sattn wood. A spedes of maple abounds in Nova Scotia, and no 
doubt, foither south, called bird-eve maple, which also is very beautiful. But the 
0. laccharinum, or sugar maple, ranks in the first importance among our forest 
trees. This valuable native is peculiarly dear to the citizens of ihi^ country, u 
it furnishes an article of the first neceasily, by the labour of free men, and of equal 
quality, to that produced by the sugar cane; and the timber is highly useful for 
variaus mechanical purposes, particularly for saddle trees. From the maple majr 
also be made a pleasant molasses, an agreeable beer, a strong sound wine, and an 
eicellenl vinegar. 

' ' The following facts upon the flowing of maple-juice, are curious, and deserve 

"The Sowing of maple-juice is as completely locked up by continued warmth 
as by &ost, and only flows by the alternate operation of these agents. Yet the 
same degrees of heat, even after frost, have not always the same effect. Thus, & 
warm south wind stops the flowing more than a cool north-west wind. To judge 
from sensations, generally a bradng wind facilitates the discharge, and a relaxing 
wind acts to the contrary. Whether, or how far, electiidty may operate in thtl 
case, must be left for future inquirers to determine. The juice Sows for about 
twenty-four hours after a fiosl; but, when a tapped tree has ceased, tap a new tree, 
and it will flow considerably, as if a certain quantity was discharged by the frost. 
The juice flows from all ^des of the incision. 

' ' Cut a sugar maple early in the morning, if the night has been cold, and it 
will appear comparatively dry and devoid of juice, in every part of the ti«e. Cut 
it a few hours after, if the day is moderately warm, and the juice will issue almost 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 1 5 3 

' [134] CHAPTER XX 

Big Guiandot river — Crumps's farm — Inhospitable re- 
ception — General remark — Two hunters — Cotton 
plantation, and gin for cleaning the cotton — Snakes — 
Remedy for their bite — Great Sandy river — State 
boundary — Hanging rock. 

Six miles below Bowden's, we passed Big Guiandot river 
which joins the Ohio from the left, and is about eighty yards 
wide, having one Buffington's finely situated house and 
farm on the bank just below it. From Bowden's to Big 
Guiandot, the banks of the Ohio are well settled on both 
sides. In the next eleven miles, we passed three creeks on 
the right, and one on the left hand, the second one called 
Indian Guiandot, only worth remarking. It coming on to 
rain very heavy, we stopped here at the end of eleven miles, 
just above the mouth of a fine little river on the left called 
Twelve Pole creek, about thirty yards wide, with a ferry and 
a large scow or flat for carrying over horses or cattle. The 
house we stopped at was very well situated on the top of a 
high sloping bank, and was the residence of one Crumps, 
who had removed here from Kentucky, and possessed the 
rich and well cultivated surrounding farm. The family 
were at breakfast, but no place was offered at the table to 
the wet travellers, though it was well loaded with viands, 
which Mr. Crumps apparently knew how to make the best 
use of for fattening, as his corpulency and general appear- 
ance strongly indicated a propensity to boorish gluttony. 
Indeed we were not permitted to enter the eating room, but 
with a sort of sullen civility, were desired to sit down in an 
open space which divides two enclosed ends from each other, 
but all covered with the same roof, and which is the usual 
style of the cottages in this part of the country. The space 
in the middle is probably [135] left unenclosed, for the more 

1 54 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

agreeable occupancy of the family during the violent heats 
of summer. 

I have observed that wherever we have stopped on the 
banks of the river, we have rarely experienced that hospi- 
tality, which might be expected to prevail amongst people so 
remote from polished society. 

Two hunters sat down with us after they had finished 
their breakfast, and they entertained us above an hour with 
their feats of deer and bear killing, in which the one always 
related something more extraordinary than the other. At 
last they bantered each other to go out and kill a deer. 

It still rained very heavy, but nothing deterred by it, 
they each took their rifle, stuck their tomahawks into the 
belts of their hunting shirts, and accompanied by a fine dog, 
led by a string to prevent his breaking (or hunting the game 
beyond the reach of their rifles) they set off for the woods. 

Seeing some cotton regularly planted on the opposite 
side of the river, on inquiry, I learned that from hence down 
the Ohio, a good deal of cotton is raised, although on ac- 
count of its not standing the winter, it must be planted every 
year. Though the climate farther south is more congenial 
to it, it is nevertheless an annual throughout the continent 
to the northward of Cape Florida, differing from the coun- 
tries between the tropicks, where I have sometimes seen 
the same plants bear to the seventh year; but that only in 
places where it was neglected, as the common usage there 
is to replant every third or fourth year. A few miles from 
Crumps's there is a large gin worked by two men, which 
can clean seven hundred pounds per day; the toll for gin- 
ning is one eighth of the quantity cleaned. 

The copper-head snake'" abounds here, but the rattle- 

"» The copperhead {IrigotKCtphalus eontorkvt), a rather smaJl venomous snake, 
gives no warning before it bites. The Dame was, therefore, applied during the 
War of Secession to disloyal Northerners. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


snake is scarce. Crumps told us that the bark of the root 
of the poplar, particularly the yellow poplar, made into a 
strong decoction and taken inwardly, [136] while a part 
pounded and applied to the bite of any snake, is an infallible 
remedy: And that it is also a most powerful alterative, and 
purifier of the blood. 

There being no prospect of the rain subsiding, at eleven 
o'clock we proceeded, sitting under our awning and letting 
the boat drop with the current, which she did about two 
miles an hour. 

At half past twelve we passed Great Sandy river on the 
left, four miles below Crumps's. It is about a hundred 
yards wide, and is the boundary between Virginia and Ken- 
tucky; in the latter of which, on the bank above the con- 
fluence, are two large houses, one of logs and the other 
framed and clapbcarded, with a sign post before the door — 
probably the scite of some future town."" 

Three miles from hence are two small creeks opposite 
each other, and a good brick house building at the mouth 
of that on the left. Three miles and a half further is Big 
Storm creek on the right, a mile and a half below which, 
we passed on the left, an excellent house of a Mr. Colvin, 
nearly opposite to which, on the right is a small insulated 
mountain named Hanging Rock, from its being a bare per- 
pendicular rock, from half the elevation to the top. 

This is a very picturesque and agreeable object to the 
eye, fatigued with the perpetual sameness of the banks below 
Point Pleasant. 

Two miles further on the right, a little way below Fer- 
guson's sand bar, we observed a wharf or pier of loose paving 
stones, and some mill machinery on the bank above it — 

"* This WHB the future town of Catlettsburg. The fiist land was surveyed oa 
the Big Sandy in 1770, when Washingtoa laid out bounty lands Ear Captain John 
Savage's company, who had served in the French and Indian War.^ Ed. 

156 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

the remains of a floating mill carried away last winter by the 

Half a mile below this is a remarkable point, and fine 
beach of coarse gravel on the right, and a delightfully 
situated farm almost opposite. 

Judge Boon has a good house on the left about three miles 
further down,'" opposite to which on the Ohio side is the 
beginning of French Grant. 

[137] The Ohio which had ran generally between the 
south and west, (except for about thirty miles near Le Tart's 
falls where it takes a northerly course) had altered its direc- 
tion to the north westward, from the confluence of Big 
Sandy river. 

French Grant — Dreadful epidemick disorder — Distress- 
ing scene occasioned by it — Mons Gervais and Burrs- 
burgh — Greenupsburgh — Power of hunger proved — 
Little Sciota river — Portsmouth — Paroquets. 
A LriTLE below judge Boon's we were haUed by a man 
on the Ohio shore. We landed and found him to be a Mr. 
White, who had put a box of medicines into our boat at 
Marietta, for doctor Merrit, and having travelled on horse- 
back had arrived here before us. 

We now delivered it to White, who, hearing A call 

me Doctor, he requested me to stop and visit a Mr. Hunt, 
who with two of his men and his housekeeper, were suffer- 
ing under a most severe epidemick malady, which was then 
raging in and about French Grant, and which doctor Merrit, 
the only medical man in the settlement, had been attacked 
with yesterday. Prompted by humanity, we walked to 

"* Thia was Jesse Boone, son of the well-lcDown pioneer Daniel, who had re- 
moVEd lo Missouri with his other sods in 1798. Jesse Boone remained behind, 
was inspector of salt-works for West Virginia, and justice of the Kentucky county- 
court fot Gteenup. This infonnation is derived from peisonal relation of Nathan 
Boone, another son, in Wisconsin Historical Society Draper MSS., 6 S 31a. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


the cabin occupied by Mr. Hunt's family, where we beheld 
a truly distressing scene. In an Indian grass hammock, 
lay Mr. Hunt, in a desperate and hopeless stage of the yellow 
fever; his skin and eyes of a deep yellow, and he in a state 
of apparent stupor, but still sensible. His housekeeper, 
looking almost as ill, and groaning piteously, on a bed near 
him. One of his men seated on a chair, in a [138] feeble 
state of convalescence; and another standing by almost 
recovered, but still looking wretchedly. On the floor were 
travelling trunks, cases, books, furniture, and house uten- 
sils, promiscuously jumbled together, but all clean, as was 
the cabin itself. 

I could not help contrasting in my mind Mr. Hunt's 
present situation, at so great a distance from his connexions, 
from cultivated society, and from medical aid, with what 
it was, when he represented his native state of New-Hamp- 
shire in congress, or during his travels in Europe. Such 
are some of the hardships and inconveniences attending the 
first settlers in a new country.'** 

After approving what doctor Merrit had prescribed, and 
recommending a continuance of his regimen and advice, 
which consisted of alterative catharticks followed by ton- 
icks, we took our leave, impressed with the opinion that Mr. 
Hunt had but a few hours longer of existence, which also 
seemed to be his own opinion, as when I addressed a few 
cheering words to him, he only answered by shaking his 
head and closing his eyes. I supposed the rest of the family 

"* Samuel Hunt of New Hampshire was bom in 1765, snd after studying law 
travelled in Europe for three years. Upon his return he was twice sent to CoDgreig 
from his native state (1S03-05), and declined the third election in order to convey 
a colony to the Ohio, where he had negotiated a purchase in the French Grant from 
the owner, Gervius. He engaged as a housekeeper, Miss Cynthia Riggs; and came 
out on horseback in the fall of 180^. Cuming's fears were realized, for Hunt 
died a few days after he bad passed. The New Hampshire colony emigrated 
later (iSio), however, under the lead of Asa Boynton, and the name of Bumburgh 
waa changed to thai of Haverhill. — Ed. 


Early U^eitem Travels 


would recover. White is an intelligent man, and makes 
a trade of sinking wells, of which he has sunk a very fine 
one, of forty-five feet deep for Mr. Hunt, near a good two 
story house almost finished. 

French Grant contains twenty-four thousand acres, given 
by the United States to some French settlers, who had been 
disappointed in the titles of their purchases at Galliopolis, 
amongst whom a Mons. Gervais"" had for his part four 
thousand acres, on which he planned a town, which he 
named Burrsburgh, in honour of the then vice president: 
but after passing ten solitary years in a small log cabin, with 
no society except that of his dog and cat, during which time 
he employed himself in cultivating his Uttle garden, he last 
year sold his whole tract to Mr. Hunt, except two hundred 
and seventeen acres, given by him to an [139] agent in 
Philadelphia, as a recompence for his havmg enabled him 
to fulfil the engagement to government by which he held 
the land. He now lives in Galliopolis, and Mr. Hunt has 
changed the intended Burrsburgh into a farm. 

On our walk to the boat I gave White some directions for 
himself as preventive to the prevailing disorder, for which he 
thanked me, and asked our charge for the freight of doctor 
Merrit's box in such a manner as to preclude the possibOity 
of making any. 

We then crossed the river at Greenupsburgh, the seat 
of justice of Greenup county, in Kentucky. It is laid out 
for a town within the last year, but it contains as yet only 
one dwelling house, occupied by one Lyons as a tavern, 
where the courts are held ; immediately in the rear of which 
is a strong and wretched dungeon of double logs, called the 

"" Jean Gabriel Gervais conducted the movement which led to the congressional 
grant for the French of Gallipolis, and received four thousand acres for services 
therein. He lived at Gallipolis until the final sale of his lands. The income 
resulting from the investment oE the funds, permitted his return (1817) to paas the 
evening of his life in bis native Paiis. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming s Tour to the West 


gaol, with a pillory between. Little Sandy river, about 
seventy yards wide, flows into the Ohio just below Green- 

It was almost dark when we landed at Lyons's. We 
ordered supper, during the preparation of which Mrs. Lyons 
requested my advice for her husband, who had been seized 
that morning by the prevailing fever. I wrote a prescrip- 
tion for him secundum arlem, which I thought fully equiva- 
lent to our supper, but as she gave us no credit for it in our 
bill, she probably supposed that a travelling doctor ought 
to prescribe gratis. 

We had an excellent supper of tea, nice broiled chickens, 
and fine biscuit, to which travelling and rowing gave us good 
appetite, notwithstanding we saw our landlady take the 
table cloth from under her sick husband's bed clothes. 
After this let not the delicate town bred man affect disgust 
at the calls of nature being satisfied in a manner he is unused 
to, as [140] in a similar situation, I will venture to assert, he 
would do as we did. 

After supper, we dropped down the stream about a mile, 
then anchored with a stone at the end of a rope, at a little 
distance from the shore, and went to sleep. 

Proceeding, on the twenty-eighth, at the dawn of day, 
by half past five we were abreast of Green township, a small 
hamlet of six or seven houses, on the right, in French Grant, 
three miles below Greenupsburgh. Six miles lower, we 
left on the right. Little Sciota river, about thirty yards wide. 

Half a mile further, on the same side, we passed a stratum 
of iron ore, and a mile below that, a stony point projecting 
and sloping downwards, forming a fine harbour for boats, 
when the point is not overflowed. Tiger creek, about 
twenty yards wide, and apparently navigable for boats, 
flows in from the Kentucky side, three miles lower down, 
opposite to which, from Little Sciota river, the bottoms are 

l6o Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

very narrow, being confined by a picturesque range of low 
rocky cliffs and mountains, with a few straggling pines over- 
topping the other trees on their summits. 

Three miles further we stopped at Portsmouth on the 
right, and breakfasted at John Brown's tavern. Mr. Brown 
is a magistrate and keeps a store. After breakfast, the wind 
blowing too fresh up the river for us to make any progress 
without great labour, I walked to the upper end of the town, 
through a straight street, parallel to the Ohio, about half 
a mile long, on the top of a handsome sloping bank. I re- 
turned by a back street, which brought me to the banks of 
the Scioto, which river, running from the northward, falls 
into the Ohio a mile below Portsmouth, at an angle of 
thirty-three degrees, leaving only sufficient room between 
the two rivers for two parallel streets, on the one of which 
fronting the Ohio, building lots of a quarter of an acre, now 
sell at fifty dollars each. There is a [141] narrow level 
near a mile long below the town to the point of junction of 
the Scioto with the Ohio, which cannot be built on, as it is 
annually inundated by the spring floods: there is now a 
fine field of com on it, and it would all make excellent 
meadow. Mr. Massie, of Chilicothe, who is proprietor of 
both it and the town, asks fifteen hundred dollars for it, 
though it does not appear to contain fifty acres."" 

'" GeneraJ Nathaniel Massie, bom in Virginia in :763, served in the Revolu- 
tion while a youth, and at its close emigraied to Kentucky. There he was soon 
employed in the movement which led to the Virginia Military Reserve settlemeal in 
Ohio. When Virginia ceded her Northwest claims to Congresa (1784) she retained 
a large tract between the Scioto and Miami liveia (or bounty lands for her soldiers. 
Massie began the survey thereof in 1788. and two years later ted out the Grst colony 
on the site of Manchester, Ohio. At the close of the Indian wars Chillicothe was 
platted {1796), and became the fa^\ capital of the state of Ohio. Massie was an 
influential leader in early Ohio politics; he headed the opposition to General St. 
Clair, and persuaded Jefferson to remove him (1803). A strong Democrat in 
politics, bis presence at the consdlutional convention aided in giving a democratic 
cast to the new state constitution. For many years he acted as major-general 
of the Ohio militia, and one of his last public services was lo reinforce Hanison at 
Fori Meigs. His death occurred in (813. — Ed. 

J807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


Portsmouth is in a handsome and healthy situation, 
though rather too much confined by the Scioto's approach 
to the Ohio, so far above its confluence with that river. It 
is likely to become a town of some consequence, as it is the 
capital of the county of Scioto. It is only two years since 
it was laid out, and it now contains twenty houses, some of 
which are of brick, and most of them very good. I was 
shevra the scite of a court house intended to be erected im- 

Alexandria, in sight, below the mouth of the Scioto, is 
on a high, commanding bank, and makes a handsome ap- 
pearance from above Portsmouth, to travellers descending 
the river. It is eleven years old, but it has not thriven, and 
the erection of the town of Portsmouth so near it, has caused 
it to decline rapidly. It has still however the post office for 
both towns. 

There is a remarkable naked, round topped, rocky moun- 
tain, on the Virginia side, opposite to Portsmouth, which 
forms a variety to the forest covered hills, which every where 
meet the eye of the traveller through this western region. 

We observed here, vast numbers of beautiful large, green 
paroquets, which our landlord, squire Brown, informed us 
abound all over the country. They keep in flocks, and 
when they alight on a tree, they are not distinguishable from 
the foliage, from their colour."" 

The Scioto — Alexandria — Colgin's fine family — Very 
cold weather — Remarks on the sudden changes of 
weather — Salt lick — Salt springs and works. 

The Scioto is about two hundred and fifty yards wide at 
its mouth, and is navigable for large flats and keel boats 

n the Ohio Valley, 


Karly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

to Chilicothe, the capital of the state, forty-seven miles by 
land, but between sixty and seventy following the meanders 
of the river; and about a hundred miles further for batteaux, 
from whence is a portage of only four miles to Sandusky 
river which falls into Lake Erie — and near the banks of 
which the Five Nations have established their principal 
settlements, called the Sandusky towns. Its general course 
is about S. S. W. and except during the spring floods, it has 
a gentle current, and an easy navigation. About thirty 
miles from its mouth, and eight or ten from its left bank, 
are some salt springs, which make salt enough for the con- 
sumption of the country for forty or fifty miles round.'"* 

At three o'clock we left Portsmouth, from whence to 
Alexandria is W. S. W. about a mile and a quarter. We 
landed there and walked through the town, which contains 
only ten large houses besides bams and other out buildings 
— but, though inhabited, they are neglected and out of 
repair, and every thing bears the appearance of poverty 
and decay. From hence to Chilicothe the distance by the 
road is forty-seven miles. 

We delayed about an hour, and then proceeding down 
the river, we observed the hills on the left to be of conical 
forms, and the river bottoms very narrow. About four 
miles below Alexandria we observed rather a tasty cottage 
and improvement on the right. We inquired of a gentle- 
manly looking elderly man on the bank, "who resided 
there?" but [143] he uncourteously not deigning a reply, 
we were informed at the next settlement that it was a Major 

"• For the early history of the Scioto, see Croghao's Journals, vol. i o( this 
series, p. 134, note 10a. — ED. 

"° Major John Belli was a cosmopolitan, his father being French, his mother 
Dutch, and be himself bom (1760) and educated in England. He inherited estates 
in Holland, but having become imbued with republican prindpies, emigrated to 
America, bearing letters of recommendation from John Jay. Belli landed at 



Cuming's Tour to the West 


Passing Turkey creek on the right, and Conoconecq 
creek on the left, seven miles more brought us opposite to a 
very handsome insulated mountain, five hundred feet high, 
on the right, and passing Willow (small) island and bar on 
the same hand, we landed nearly opposite to buy milk at a 
decent looking cabin and small farm. It was owned by one 
Colgin, an Irishman, who has been several years in Ken- 
tucky, but only two in his present residence. He has only 
eight acres cleared, on which he maintains himself, his wife, 
and seven children, who are all comfortably and even be- 
comingly drest. There was an air of natural civility, and 
even kindness, in the manner of this famUy, which I had not 
observed before on the banks of the Ohio. The children, 
who were all bom in Kentucky, were uncommonly hand- 

Three miles further we passed on the right, Twin creeks, 
about a hundred yards apart, a mile beyond which we an- 
chored under the Ohio shore at half past nine, and passed 
under our awning as cold a night as I have experienced in 
the more northern climates in November. The sudden 
and frequent changes from excessive heat to excessive cold 
throughout the United States, are amongst the greatest incon- 
veniences to which the inhabitants are exposed, and are 
very trying to delicate constitutions, being the cause of 
pulmonary complaints, which are very common, particularly 
among the females. 

On the clear, cold morning, of the twenty-ninth of July, 

Aleiandria, Vupma, in 1783 and remained there oioe yeats, tomung a personal 
acquaintance with Washington, Knox, and other public men. Sent west on public 
business in 1791, he temaiaed as deputy-quartcnn aster of the army until after 
Wayne's victory, when he purchased land ai the mouth of Turkey Creek, and built 
thereon the house of which Cuming speaks. It was a large Iwo-sloiy frame build- 
ing, unusually good for the region, and was named "Belvidere." Major Belli 
married a cousin of General Harrison, and although the founder of Alexandria at 
the mouth of the Sdoto, preferred his home at Turkey Creek, where he died in 
1809.— Ed. 

164 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

we hauled up our anchor, and dropping down the current 
three miles, we landed at Salt Lick landing, at six o'clock. 

We walked about a mile to the salt springs. The old 
original one, formerly used by the Indians, and another 
lately opened, are on the west side of Salt Lick [144] creek 
and are owned by a family of the name of Beal. Three 
others on the east side of the creek, opened within three 
years, belong to a Mr. Greenup. The salt is made in three 
furnaces at Beal's springs, and in four at Greenup's. Each 
furnace contains fifty cast iron pans, of about twenty gallons 
each, and makes, on Greenup's side, one hundred bushels 
of salt per week, while on Seal's side they make only sixty 
bushels per week, in each furnace. The price of salt at 
the works is two dollars per bushel. A furnace requires 
eight men to do its work, whose wages are from twenty to 
twenty-five dollars per month each. The water in the old 
spring is near the surface, but the new wells are sunk to the 
depth of fifty-five feet. The water is wound up by hand by 
a windlass, in buckets, and emptied into wooden troughs, 
which lead to the furnaces. The old spring has two pumps 
in it. Much labour might be saved by machinery wrought 
either by horses, or by the water of the neighbouring creek; 
but in so new a country one must not expect to find the 
arts in perfection. 

The proprietors of each furnace pay a yearly rent of from 
three to five hundred bushels of salt to the proprietors of 
the soil. 

The valley in which the springs are is small, and sur- 
rounded by broken and rather barren hills, but producing 
wood enough to supply the furnaces with fuel constantly, 
if properly managed. 

There is a wagon road of seventy miles from hence to 
Lexington, through a country settled the whole way. The 
road passes the upper Blue Licks, where are also salt springs 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


and furnaces, not nearly however so productive as these. 
The Salt Lick springs, which are the strongest in this west- 
em country, are not half so strongly impregnated with salt, 
as the water of the ocean, yielding only about one pound of 
salt, from sixty pounds of water. 

[145] What a subject of admiration does it not afford to 
the moralizing philosopher, that such a provision should be 
made by all bountiful nature, or rather by nature's God, for 
supplying both the intellectual and brute creation, with an 
article so necessary to both, in the heart of an immense 
continent, so remote from any ocean. 

There are three or four houses at the landing, which 
was intended as the scite of the county town, but the seat 
of the courts has been established four miles lower down 
the Ohio."' 

We breakfasted on good coffee, biscuit, meat and cheese, 
at the house of one M'Bride, an Irishman, who has a fine 
family of ten chUdren all living. 


Graham's station — Brush Creek — A family travelling on 

a visit — Fine scenery — Massey's island — Manchester 

— Brookes's — Madison — Maysville — Failure of three 

towns, and an intended glass house. 

At eight o'clock we proceeded to drop down the river. 
The hills on each side still continued broken, separate, and 
pointed, and the bottoms narrow. The appearance of the 
timber since we passed Little Sandy, indicated the soil to be 
not so rich as above that river, it being of a much smaller 

About eight miles from Salt Lick we passed on the left 
a fine settlement of several large farms and good farm 

'" Vanceburgh, al the mouth of Salt Lick Creek, is now [he county seat for 
Lewis Count}'; but Clarksburgb, a village belon. wii9 originally so chosca. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 


houses, called Graham's station on Kennedy's bottom, and 
three miles further on the right the new town of AdamsviUe, 
with one very good house and three or four small ones, 
finely situated at [146] the mouth of Brush creek, which is a 
charming little river about thirty-five yards wide. 

From hence we observed several good farm houses in 
fine situations, on the left, and an extensive bottom, well 
settled, on the right, the Ohio being about half a mile wide 

At Sycamore creek, which is very small, on the left, two 
mfles below Brush creek, is a good house, finely situated, 
with a ferry for the Ohio. Here we spoke a man of the 
name of May, who with his wife and child, and an aged 
mother, had been seven weeks descending the Mississippi 
and ascending the Ohio in a skiff; bound from St. Louis in 
upper Louisiana, to Pittsburgh, a distance of thirteen hun- 
dred miles, on a visit to two of his brothers residing there. 
They had just landed to cook their dinner. I mention this 
merely to give some idea how little the inhabitants of this 
country think of joumies which would seem impracticable 
to the stationary residents of Europe. 

Since passing Brush creek, I observed the river hills to be 
lower, their tops flatter, and the country less broken: the 
river too had widened to the breadth of three quarters of a 
mile, and Pennaway's handsome brick house on a fine farm, 
separated by Donaldson's creek from the widow Smith's 
farm house, the latter decorated with a balcony and piazza, 
and beautifully situated, with the wooded hills rising grad- 
ually behind, formed altogether imagery worthy a good land- 
scape painter. From hence there is also a charming view 
down the river, through a vista formed by Massey's island 
and the high right bank on which the town of Manchester 
is placed. 

Four miles and a half below Sycamore creek, instead of 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 167 

going through the vista which was open to the eye, we kept 
over to the left shore in the main channel, to the left of a 
small island, which is joined at low water by a semicircular 
sand bar to Massey's [147] island, a fine harbour bemg 
formed by the bar between the islands except in inundations 
of the river. 

Massey's island is about two miles long, but it is very nar- 
row. It belongs to two owners, it is very fertile and partly 

At four o'clock we passed the lower end of Massey's 
island, rowed over to the right shore, and landed at Man- 
chester, a quarter of a mile lower down. 

This town has been settled twelve years, but contains 
only ten dwelling houses, most delightfully situated on a 
high plain, commanding charming prospects of the river 
both above and below. It is a post town, and is only three 
miles distant from the great state road through the state 
of Ohio to Lexington in Kentucky; but it is a poor place, 
and not likely to improve, as its vicinity to Maysville, which 
is only twelve miles lower where the road crosses the river, 
prevents its being frequented by travellers. 

We delayed but a few minutes at Manchester, and then 
proceeding, we passed Isaac creek with a wooden bridge 
over it, on the right, a mile below. A mile lower we saw 
on the left a very handsome farm house, an orchard and a 
fine farm; opposite to which on the right, the river hills 
approach close to the bank. 

Two miles further we passed Crooked creek on the left, 
the hills now approaching on that side, and receding on the 
right, leaving a fine extensive bottom between them and the 

Cabin creek on the left fs a mile and a half below Crooked 
creek, and has a good farm and handsome farm house at its 


Early Western Travels 


Three miles lower, on the left, is William Brookes's creek, 
below which is a floating mill, and Brookes's good house and 
fine farm on a very pleasant point, where a bottom com- 
mences, which extends to Limestone, while the same ridge 
of hills which we passed below Isaac creek, after semicircu- 
larly [148] bounding a deep, long and well settled bottom, 
again approach the right bank of the Ohio opposite 

It may be proper to remark here, that in general, when 
the river hills approach the river on one side, they recede 
on the other, so that hiUs on one side are opposite to bottoms 
on the other. 

From just below Brookes's, we had a fine view down a 
reach, about three miles, with Limestone or Maysville in 
sight at the end of it, znA passing the stra^ling but pleasant 
village of Madison on the left, Limestone creek, and two 
gun boats at anchor, we landed there a little before eight 

We got a good supper and beds at Mr. S. January's, who 
keeps an excellent house, and is a polite, well informed and 
attentive landlord. 

Next morning Thursday the 30th July, we walked, ac- 
companied by our host to the scite of a formerly intended 
glass house, on the bank about three quarters of a mile 
above the town; which failed of being erected inconsequence 
of the glass blowers who were engaged not having arrived 
to perform their contract. 

During our walk, we were shewn the scites of no less than 
three projected towns, on the different properties of Messrs. 
Martin, Brookes, and Cobum, at any of which, the situa- 
tions were better than at Maysville, both in point of room 
for building, and communication with the interior of the 
country. They however all failed, in favour of Mays- 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


ville;'" but those attempts to establish towns on their estates, 
will serve to give some idea of the ambitious and enterprising 
spirit which actuates the landholders in this country. 

Maysville is the greatest shipping port on the Ohio, 
below Pittsburgh, but it is merely such, not being a place 
of much business itself, but only serving as the principal 
port for the north eastern part of the state [149] of Kentucky, 
as Louisville does for the south western. It has not increased 
any for several years, and contains only about sixty houses. 
It is closely hemmed in by the river hills, over which the most 
direct road from Philadelphia through Pittsburgh and Chili- 
cothe leads to Lexington, and thence through the state of 
Tennessee to New Orleans. 

Several vessels of all sizes from four hundred tons down- 
wards, have been built here, but as none are now going for- 
ward, I presume the builders did not find that business 
answerable to their expectations. It is a post town, the mails 
from both east and west arriving on Wednesdays and 
Saturdays. Its situation causing it to be much resorted by 
travellers, that gives it an appearance of liveliness and 
bustle, which might induce a stranger to think it a place of 
more consequence in itself than it really is. 

After breakfasting with our host, I delivered a letter of 
introduction to Mr. George Gallagher, one of the principal 

"' The town on the property of Thomas Brooks — one of the early pioneers 
who came 10 Kentucky before 1776 — was called "Rittersvillc;" thai of John 
Coburn was (irsl designated as "Madison," but later as " Liberty." 

Judge John Coburn was a Philadetphian who came to Kentucky (1784) on 
the advice oE Luther Martin, living at Leitngton until 1794, when he removed 
to Mason County, and was made judge of its courts. A prominent Democrat, he 
declined the position o[ judge in the terriloiy of Michigan; but later accepted the 
tame for that of Orleans, holding court at St. Louis. Coburn was an ardent 
friend of Daniel Boone, and the act appropriating land for the latter in his old age 
was passed at his insianee. He also served as commissioner (1796) to run the 
boundary between Virginia and Kentucky; and after holding many offices of trust, 
died in 1813.— Ed. 


Early JVestem Travels 

[Vol. 4 

merchants, who received me very politely; then leaving our 
boat with our landlord to be disposed of, we set out on foot 
for Lexington, at half past eleven o'clock. 

Delightful country — Beautiful fields of maize — Washing- 
ton — A philosophical butcher — An architecturjJ wagon- 
ner — May's lick — Barren hills — Licking river — Dan- 
gerous ford — Blue licks — Good inn — Salt furnaces. 

Our road led over a high hill but of easy ascent for about 
half a mile, with small cultivated spots here and there. 
When at the summit of the river hills, we entered on a fine 
country, consisting of hill [150] and dale, with very exten- 
sive farms, and some of the largest fields of Indian corn I 
had ever seen. Perhaps no plantation has a more beautiful 
appearance than a field of maize in that stage of vegetation 
in which we now saw it. It was in tassel and silk according 
to the country terms. The first of these is the flower or 
blossom, which grows on the top of the plant which is from 
eight to twelve feet high. It is of a light brown colour and 
resembles the feather of a quill stripped down and twisted 
round the stem, and nods and trembles with the slightest air 
of wind. The latter consists of a few silky and silvery 
threads, which issue from the end of each ear, from two to 
three of which grow at the height of about two thirds of the 
stalk. The leaves which grow luxuriantly from the stalk 
to from a foot to two feet long, are of a deep and rich green, 
and have their ends generally bent down by their own 
weight. It is impossible to convey an idea on paper of the 
beauty of a field of fifty or sixty acres in this state. A 
field of sugar canes m the West Indies, when nearly ripe, 
comes the nearest to it in beauty and appearance of any 
other species of cultivation I am acquainted with. It 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


might be deemed impertinent to occupy the time of the 
American reader, in describing the appearance of a field, to 
the sight of which he is so accustomed, but should these 
sheets ever find their way to Europe, it may afford informa- 
tion to those who may never have an opportunity of know- 
ing more of the culture of so useful, so noble and so beau- 
tiful a plant."* 

[151] About half a mile further, we passed on the right 
the handsome house, spacious square bam, fine farm and 
improvements of major John Brown, an Irishman, the 
whole together indicating taste and opulence. 

A mile and a half beyond this on the left, is a large and 
remarkably well built brick house of a Mr. Blanchard, well 
situated, but left rather naked of wood. 

The country on every side appears to be better improved 
than I have observed it in any part of America, and won- 
derfully abundant in grain, chiefly Indian com. 

Four miles from Maysville, we entered the flourishing 
town of Washington, which is laid out on a roomy and 
liberal plan, in three parallel streets, containing only as 
yet ninety-six houses, mostly large and good ones. There 
is here a good stone court-house with a small belfry, a 
church of brick for a society of Scotch Presbyterians, and 
another of wood for one of Anabaptists. Washington being 

"* An ear of com. in most parts of Ireland, England, and Scotland, and other 
parts of Europe, 19 deemed a gieat curiosity, and is carefully preserved, when it 
can be procured, for a number of ytara by some families aa a shew of a singular 
production of nature, and is as much admired and as closely examined as would 
be here the shoe of a Chinese lady of quality. A young Irish gentleman tells me, 
when a boy \n Ireland he once carried a com cob Eouneen miles in his pocket to 
shew it to his relatives, who viewed it as a great curiosity from America, and could 
form DO just idea of the manner of its growing, or of its utihty, but concluded it 
grew tike oats or barley, and like these were cut with sickles or scythes. The cob 
had been previously stripped of its grains by as many individuals, each taking one, 
as a sight of singular curiosity for their families and neighbourhood. — Ckahek. 


£tfr/f Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

the capital of Braken county, and in the heart of a very 
rich country, is a thriving town, and will probably continue 
to be so, notwithstanding it is without the advantage of 
any navigable river nearer than the Ohio at MaysviUe."* 

Mr. Lee a merchant here, to whom I had letters of intro- 
duction was polite and obliging."* We got an excellent 
dinner, at Ebert's tavern; after which we hired two horses 
through Mr. Lee's interest, as it is difficult for strangers to 
procure horses on hire throughout this country. We engaged 
one at half a dollar, and the other at three quarters of a dollar 
a [152] day; the last from a Mr. Fristoe, a small man of 
sixty-eight, married to his second wife of thirty-two years 
of age. She is a contrast to her husband in size as well as 
years, she being tall and fat, and weighing two hundred and 
forty pounds. She is two years younger than his youngest 
daughter by his first wife. He has grand and great grand- 
children bom in Kentucky. He is a Virginian, and was 
once a man of large property, when he resided on the banks 
of one of the rivers which fall into the Chesapeak, where he 
loaded the ship in which captain, afterwards consul O'Brien 
was captured by the Algerines. By unfortunate land job- 
bing in Kentucky, he has lost his property, and is now a 
butcher in Washington. 

He is truly a philosopher, contrasting his former with his 
present situation, with much good humour and pleasantry. 

At three o'clock, we left Washington on horseback, and 
travelled on a good road through a well improved country, 
four miles to the north fork of Licking river, which we crossed 

'" For a sketch of the town of Washinpon, see F. A.'s TraveU, vol. 
iii of this series, p. — , note 37. CumiDg is mistakeD in making it the seat of 
Bracken instead of Mason County. — Ed. 

*" For biographical sketch of Geneml Henry Lee, see Michaui's Travtis, 
vol. iii of this series, p. 36, note 25. — Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 173 

by a wooden bridge supported by four piers of hammered 
limestone, with a transverse sleeper of timber on each which 
supports the sill. The bridge is seventy*seven yards long, 
and only wants abutments to be very complete. A wag- 
onner had stopped his wagon on it to measi(re its propor- 
tions. He told me that he had contracted to build a similar 
bridge over the south fork of Licking at Cynthiana, forty 
miles from hence, which is larger than the north fork. It 
may seem strange that a wagonner should be employed as a 
builder, but it is common throughout the United States, par- 
ticularly at a distance from the sea coast, for one man to 
have learned and wrought at two, and even sometimes three 
or four different mechanical professions, at different periods 
of his life. 

[153] The country stiU continued fine, but not quite so 
well improved, to Lee's creek mill, three miles and a half 
beyond the north fork of Licking. The mill was now 
stopped for want of water in the creek, which is an incon- 
venience to which the whole of the western country is liable, 
the brooks and small rivers generally failing during the 

Half a mile further we came to a small post town, called 
May's-lick, containing only eight or ten houses, irregularly 
scattered on the side of a hill. We here stopped to feed 
our horses, and then proceeded four miles through a good 
natural, but indifferently improved country to Clark's ex- 
cellent mill on Johnston's fork of Licking, which is a fine 
mill stream, and falls into Licking river, several miles lower 
down. The road on each side the fork is very bad, the hills 
being extremely steep. 

After passing Clark's mill, we found the country gradually 
worse cultivated, less inhabited, and at last a continuation 
of barren hiUs, bearing very little besides wild pennyroyal, 

1 74 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

with which the air is strongly perfumed, and a few stunted 
shrubs and trees, there being nothing to promote vegetation, 
but gravel and loose stones of every variety — marble, 
limestone, flint, freestone, and granate, among which the 
limestone is the most predominant. The road also was 
very bad for the three or four miles next to the Blue salt 
licks on Licking river, which is eight mUes from Clark's 

On the road we met a Mr. Ball and another man, both 
armed, going in search of four negro slaves, who had ran 
away from him, and two of his neighbours near Boons- 
borough,"* seven had ran away, but three had been appre- 
hended that morning. 

We saw from the eminences on the road, the smoke of 
the salt furnaces, when three miles distant from them. 

[154] In fording the Licking, which is a fine river about 
eighty yards wide, we kept rather too high, and got into such 

deep water that mine had to swim some yards, while A , 

who was behind me took advantage of my mistake, and 
kept lower down, so that his horse was only up to the 
saddle skirts. 

Some negro salt labourers on the bank, mischievously 
beckoned and called to us towards them, enjoying our em- 
barrassment, but taking care to get out of sight when we 
got firm footing on the same side of the river with them. 

We found Mrs. Williams an obliging hostess, and her 
sister Miss Howard, a very agreeable woman; they favoured 

"* Boonesboniugli was one of the finl settlements of Kentucky, laid out in 1775 
b]' the pioQeer for whom it was named. It was the capital of the Traosylvama 
Company, and the scene of some of ihc most noted events of early Kentucky his- 
tory, particularly during the siege of 1778. Boooesborough declined in importaoce 
after the Indian wars; in 1810 it was a mere hamlet, and since that but the aile of a 
farm. For further details see the erceltent monograph oE Ranck, BooTiesborough 
(Ulaon Club PtMiaititmi, No. 16; Louisville, igoi). — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


us with their company at supper, aod were both much better 
bred, and better informed than most of the tavem ladies 
we had seen since we left Pittsburgh. 

There were some other ladies and some children in the 
house from Washington, who were here for the benefit of 
drinking the waters of the salt spring, which are esteemed 
efficacious in some disorders. They are frequented by 
people from different parts of the state, as both a cure and 
antidote for every disorder incident to the human frame, 
I believe them to be perfectly neutral: They are impregnated 
with sulphur, and smell and taste exactly like the bilge 
water in a ship's hold, of course they are very nauseous. 
They act sometimes as a cathartick, and sometimes as an 
emelick, but without causing either griping, or sickness of 
the stomach. 

There are seven furnaces wrought here, but the water 
which lies at the surface is not near so strong as that at the 
salt lick near the Ohio, each furnace here making only about 
twenty-five bushels of salt per week. The Blue lick salt 
is much whiter and handsomer than the other, but it only 
sells at the same price. Each furnace rents at about three 
hundred dollars a year. 

[155] These licks were much frequented by buffaloes and 
deer, the former of which have been destroyed or terrified 
from the country. It is only fourteen or fifteen years since 
no other except buffaloe or bear meat was used by the in- 
habitants of this country.'" 

'" The Lower Blue Licks, which Cuming here describes, were discovered ia 
• 7 73 ''T a party of BUrveyora led by John Finley. It was a wcU-known spot in early 
Keotudcy annab, and Daniel Boone was here engaged in making salt when cap- 
lured by Indians (1778). The most famous event in its history was the disasltoua 
battle fought here, August iq, 1783, in which the flower ol Kentucky froutietsaieQ 
lost their iives. See Young, "Battle of Blue Ijcks" in Durrett, Bryants Sla- 
Ikm (Filson Club Publicatums, No. la; Louisville, iSg;). The Lower Blue Licks 
later became, ai Cuming indicates, a favorite watering-place for the 

176 Eariy Western Travels [Vol. 4 

Nicholasville — Assembly of birds — Shafts to salt spring 

— Millersburgh — Capt. Waller — State of the country at 
first settlement — Massacre of the American militia un- 
der Col. Todd by the Indians — Astonishing plenty of 
game — Mode of killing the buffaloe — Their extirpation 

— Canes — Paper mill — Johnston's — North branch of 
Elkhom — General Russel. 

Friday, twenty-first July, we arose early and proceeded 
on our journey. At about two miles from Blue Licks we 
passed a tavern, a double log gaol and a court house in a 
very solitary situation, dignified with the name of Nicholas- 
ville, it being the seat of the county courts of Nicholas 
county. In one spot on the road were two crows, two' doves, 
four red-birds, and four partridges, assembled as if in coun- 
cil. They all took wing at our approach except the par- 
tridges, which in this country are wonderfully abundant, 
and very tame. They will walk quietly to the side of the 
road and look at the passing traveller with innocent confi- 

There were but one or two houses in the next six miles, 
which are through a stony defile between barren hills. The 
country then becomes better inhabited and the soil gradu- 
ally improves to Millersburgh, a village of about thirty 
houses, thirteen miles from Blue Licks."' There is on the 
road an old shaft where an attempt was made to come at a 
salt spring [156] without success, but a little further they 
succeeded in finding a very strong one, which was rendered 
useless by some springs of fresh water flowing into the salt, 
at such a depth as to render the turning them away if not 
impracticable, at least too expensive. 

We breakfasted at Capt. Waller's tavern, at Millers- 

"' For sketch of Millersburgh, see F. A. Michauz's TroMli, vol. iii of this 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the if est 


burgh."' Our host was an obliging and sensible vaoji., and 
possessed of good general information relative to this coun- 
try: he was not destitute of some particular also. We col- 
lected from him, that when he first arrived in Kentucky, 
about twenty-three years ago, there was not a house between 
Limestone and Lexington, and at the latter place were only 
a few log cabins under the protection of a stoccado fort. — 
That there was not hidf a mile of the road between the two 
places unstained by human blood. — That in 1782, on the 
heights above the Blue Lick, 2000 Indians drew 1500 
Americans into an ambush, by partially exposing themselves, 
and so tempting the latter to attack them. The American 
commander, Col. Todd, and six hundred of his men were 
killed, and the whole party would have been destroyed had 
the remainder not saved themselves by throwing themselves 
into the Licking and gaining the opposite bank, to which 
the Indians did not chuse to pursue them, satisfied with the 
slaughter they had made."* He said that buffaloes, bears 
and deer were so plenty in the country, even long after it 
began to be generally settled, and ceased to be frequented 
as a hunting ground by the Indians, that little or no bread 
was used, but that even the chUdren were fed on game; the 
facility of gaining which prevented the progress of agricul- 
ture, until the poor innocent buffaloes were completely 
extirpated, and the other wild animals much thinned: And 
that the principal part of the cultivation of Kentucky had 
been within the last fifteen years. He said the buffaloes 
had been so numerous, going in herds of several hundreds 

"* Captain John WaUer nas one of the party from Viigioia who were ossocialed 
with Simon Kenton {1775-76) in laying out a station Deaj MaysviUe, which later 
was abaadoned because of danger from Indians. He had been a noted border- 
fighter and frontiersman during the early history of Kentucky. In 1793 he repre- 
sented Bourbon County in the first legislature. — Ed. 

'" The numbers as given here are greatSy exaggerated. About sixty Americana 
weie slain, and the atlaclung party was not over, at the most 


Rarly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

together, that [157] about the salt licks and springs they fre- 
quented, they pressed down and destroyed the soil to a 
depth of three or four feet, as was conspicuous yet in the 
neighbourhoodjof the Blue Lick, where all the old trees 
have their roots bare of soil to that depth. — Those harmless 
and unsuspecting animals, used to stand gazing with ap- 
parent curiosity at their destroyer, until he was sometimes 
within twenty yards of them, when he made it a rule to select 
the leader, which was always an old and fat female. When 
she was killed, which rarely failed from the great dexterity 
of the hunter, the rest of the herd would not desert her, until 
he had shot as many as he thought proper. If one of the 
common herd was the first victim of the rifle, the rest would 
immediately fly. The males sometimes exceeded a thous- 
and pounds weight, but the females were seldom heavier 
than five hundred. He said that the whole country was 
then an entire cane brake, which sometimes grew to forty 
feet high, but that the domestick stock introduced by the 
settlers have eradicated the cane, except in some remote 
and unsettled parts of the state. He described that plant, 
as springing up with a tender shoot, like asparagus, which 
cattle are very fond of. 

Millerstown has been settied about ten years, but it is not 
thriving, though it seems well calculated for a manufacturing 
town, from its situation on the bank of Hinckson's fork of 
the Licking, which is a good mill stream, and over which 
there is a wooden bridge. 

Several strata of lead ore, parallel to the surface, and 
from three inches to a foot in thickness, have been discov- 
ered in the town, and neighbourhood ; and about a year ago, 
a Mr. Elliot, erected a furnace and made sixteen tons of 
pure lead, but for want of funds to prosecute the business 
to effect, he was obliged to cease exertions, which, with 
proper encouragement, might have been a source of very 


i8o7-i8og] Cuming's Tour to the West 


extensive traffick, to [158] this state, independent of the 
keeping in it a considerable sum of the circulating medium 
which is now paid for that useful metal, with which it is 
supplied from St. Genevieve in Upper Louisiana, at a profit 
of one himdred per cent.'" 

From Millersburgh we travelled about seven miles, over 
a fine soil, but not much improved on account of the uncer- 
tainty of titles. We then turned out of the main road into 
a path through the woods, which we were informed would 
shorten our road two miles to Baylor's mills, where Mr. A — 
had business, but after losing ourselves in a labyrinth of 
cross paths, and riding five miles instead of two, we at last 
found ourselves at Col. Garret's fine stone house and exten- 
sive farm,*" where a young lady from an upper window, 
gave us directions, by the aid of which we soon found Mr. 

We had to regret the absence from home of young Mr. and 
Mrs. Baylor,"* as Mr. A. was personally acquainted with 
them, and we had promised ourselves a musical feast, from 
the performance of Mrs. B. on the piano forte, on which 
instrument she is said particularly to excel. They not being 
at home, we declined the invitation of a younger Mr. B. to 
alight, but taking a glass of milk and water on horseback, 
we proceeded across Stoner's fork of the Licking, towards. 
Lexington, leaving the town of Paris about three miles on 
the left."' 

>» This was doubtless the residence of General James Garrard, a Virgitiiaa 
who had emigrated to Kentucky directly after the RcvolutioD. and wa^ second 
governor of the state, 1796-1804. He died at his home in Bourbon County in 

■ Daughter of Mr. Heniy Weidner, of Pittsburgh. — Cbaueb. 

" For sketch of Paris, see Uichaus's TroiMJi, vol. iii of this series, p, 37, note 

^rly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

Our ride now was on a channing road finely shaded by 
woods, with now and then a good farm, five miles to John- 
ston's tavern, where we fed our horses and got some refresh- 
ment. Capt. Johnston is most comfortably settled on a 
fine farm, having a son married and settled on an equally 
good one, on one side, and a daughter equally well situated 
on the other. He and his wife are good looking, middle 
aged people, [159] and both in their persons, and in every 
thing around them, have the appearance of being possessed 
of the happy oiium of life. He had a quantity of last year's 
produce in his granaries, and his wheat, his com and tobacco 
fields, with a large tract of meadow, were smUing in luxu- 
riant abundance around him. 

The country continued fine, and more cultivated for 
the next six miles, hill and dale alternately, but the hills only 
gentle slopes: we then ascending a chain of rather higher 
hills than we had lately crossed, called Ash ridge, we passed 
a small meeting house on the right, and Mr. Robert Carter 
Harrison's large house, fine fann and improvements on 
the left, separated by the north branch of Elkhom river 
from Jamison's mill. We then crossed that river, and soon 
after, on a fine elevated situation, we passed general Russel's 
house on the right, with a small lawn in front of it, and two 
small turrets at the comers of the lawn next the road. 
The tout ensemble wanting only the vineyards to resemble 
many of the country habitations of Languedoc and Pro- 
vence. I have little doubt, but at some future period, that 
feature will also be added to it, as in this climate and soil 
grapes would grow most luxuriantly; when therefore the 
population of this country becomes adequate to the culture 
of the vine, it will assuredly not be neglected. 

Overtaking a gentleman on horseback, who had been 
overseeing some mowers in a meadow, he joined company 
with, and civilly entered into conversation with us. It was 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 1 8 1 

general Russel who had been riding round his farm. We 
discussed various topicks respecting the natural and im- 
proved state of the country, and the present state of political 
affairs. He had just returned from Richmond in Virginia, 
where he had been during the examination of Col. Burr, 
before the grand jury. He evinced much good sense, in- 
telligence, candour and liberality in his opinions, [160] not 
only with regard to that extraordinary man, who has caused 
such a ferment throughout the union, but on the various 
other subjects which we conversed on. He obligingly 
accompanied us about five miles, as an afternoon's ride, and 
at parting, he gave us a friendly and polite invitation to visit 
him at his cottage, on our return."' 

He described the well where he has his spring house, as a 
great natural curiosity; 'there being a grotto under it which 
terminates in a cavern in the limestone rock, which has been 
explored nearly a himdred yards without finding the tenni- 


Lexington — Excellent tavern — Fine market — Transyl- 
vania university — Publick buildings — Schools — Manu- 
facturies — Stores and state of business — Coffee house 
— Vauxhall. 

The country had insensibly assumed the appearance of an 
approach to a city. — ^The roads very wide and fine, with 

'* GencTBl William Russell was a Virginiaii \>j birth, who bad lived in the 
southwestem part of thai state, and from boyhood had been accustomed to Indian 
warfare. He participated in the battles of King's Mountain and Guilford Court 
House, and in the expedition against the Cherokeea. After emigrating to Keo- 
tucky, be served with Scott, Wilkinson, and Wayne in their Indian campaigns, 
showing great military capadly. Again in iSti, and in the Western battles of 
the War of 1812-15, the services of General Russell wcreot much importance. Id 
politics he was as prominenl as in warfare, representing his county (Fayette) in 
the Kentucky legislature for thirteen terms, but finally suffering defeat as a candi- 
date Cor governor (1824). The following year he died on his farm, where Cuming 
had met him. — Ed. 

i8z Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

grazing parks, meadows, and every spot in sight culti- 

Soon after parting with the general, we were gratified 
with a view of Lexington, about half a mile distant, from an 
eminence on the road. On entering the town we were struck 
with the fine roomy scale on which every thing appeared to 
be planned. Spacious streets, and large houses chiefly 
of brick, which since the year 1795, have been rapidly taking 
the place of the original wooden ones, severfd of which how- 
ever yet remain. 

We turned up the main street, which is about eighty feet 
wide, compactly built, well paved, and [161] having a foot- 
way, twelve feet wide on each side.^ — ■ Passing several very 
handsome brick houses of two and three stories, numerous 
stores well filled with merchandize of every description, and 
the market place and court house, we dismounted at Wilson's 
inn, and entered the traveller's room, which had several 
strangers in it.* Shortly after, the supper bell ringing, we 
obeyed the summons, and were ushered into a room about 
■ forty feet long, where, at the head of a table, laid out with 
neatness, plenty and variety, sat our well dressed hostess, 
who did the honours of it with much ease and propriety. 

We retired early, and next morning, before breakfast, 
went to the market, which is held every Wednesday and 
Saturday. We were surprised at the number of horses 
belonging to the neighbouring farmers, which were fastened 
around on the outside, and on entering the market place we 
were equally astonished at the profusion and variety of most 
of the necessaries and many of the luxuries of life. There 
was not however such a display of flesh meat as is seen in 
Pittsburgh, which might be owing to the warmth of the 
climate at that season. Prices were nearly similar to those 
at Pittsburgh: beef four cents per pound, bacon eight, butter 
twelve and a half; lamb twenty-five cents a quarter, com 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 183 

meal forty-two cents per bushel, and every thing else in pro- 
portion. Vegetables were in great abundance and very 
cheap, and were sold mostly by negro men and women; 
indeed that race were the most predominant both as to 
sellers and buyers. 

Our beds had been very good, and our breakfast and 
dinner to-day, were correspondent to our supper last night 
— displaying a variety neatly and handsomely served up, 
with excellent attendance. 

I employed the forenoon in running over and viewing 
the town. It contains three hundred and sixty-six dwelling 
houses, besides bams, stables and [162] other out oEBces. 
The streets cross each other at right angles, and are from 
fifty to eighty feet wide. A rivulet which turns some mills 
below the town, runs through the middle of Water-street, 
but it is covered by an arch, and levelled over it the length 
of the street. It falls into the Elkhom a few miles to the 
N. W. 

There are societies of Presbyterians, Seceders, Episco- 
palians, Anabaptists and Roman CathoHcks, each of which 
has a church, no way remarkable, except the Episcopalian, 
which is very neat and convenient. There is also a society 
of Methodists, which has not yet any regular house of wor- 
ship. The court house now finishing, is a good, plain, 
brick building, of three stories, with a cupola, rising from 
the middle of the square roof, containing a bell and a town 
dock. The cupola is supported by four large brick columns 
in the centre of the house, rising from the foundation, 
through the hall of justice, and in my opinion adding nothing 
to its beauty or convenience. The whole building when fin- 
ished, will cost about fifteen thousand dollars. The masonick 
hall, is a neat brick building, as is also the bank, where 
going for change for a Philadelphia bank note, I received in 
specie one per cent, advance, which they allow on the notes 


Early Western Travels 


of the Atlantick cities for the convenience of remitting. 
There is a pubhck library and a university, called Transyl- 
vania, which is incorporated and is under the government 
of twenty-one trustees and the direction of a president, the 
Rev. James Blythe, who is also professor of natural philoso- 
phy, mathematicks, geography and English grammar. 
There are four professors besides: the Rev. Robert H, 
Bishop, professor of moral philosophy, belles lettres, logick 
and history; Mr. Ebenezer Sharpe, professor of the lan- 
guages; Doctor James Fishback, professor of medicine, 
&c. and Henry Clay, Esq, professor of law. The fimds of 
the university arise from the price of tuition, (which [163] 
is lower than in any other seminary of teaming in the United 
States) and from eight thousand acres of first rate land, 
granted to it by the state of Virginia; five thousand of which 
are in the neighbourhood of Lexington, and three thousand 
near Louisville at the falls of Ohio. The legislature of 
Kentucky have also granted to it six thousand acres of 
valuable land, south of Green river. Its yearly income 
from the lands, now amounts to about two thousand dollars, 
which will probably be soon much increased.'" 

There are no fewer than three creditable boarding schools 
for female education, in which there are at present above 
a hundred pupils. An extract from Mrs. Beck's card, will 
convey some idea of the progress of polite education in this 

' ' Boarders instructed in the following branches, at the 
rate of two hundred dollars per annum, viz. Reading, spelling, 
writing, arithmetick, grammar, epistolary correspondence, 
elocution and rhetorick; geography, with the use of maps, 

"* For the early history of TrDDsylvoma University, one of the oldest and most 
celebrated educational institutions in the West, as well as for sketches of its early 
professors, see Peter, Trantytvania UnivtrsUy (Filson Club Publicalitmi, No. tii 
Louisville, 1896).— Eo. 


1807-1809] Cuming*! Tour to the West 1 8 5 

globes, and the armillary sphere ; astronomy, with the advan- 
tage of an orrery; ancient and modem history; chronology, 
mythology, and natural history; natural and moral philoso- 
phy; musick, vocal and instrumental; drawing, painting, and 
embroidery of all kinds; artificial flowers, and any other 
fashionable fancy-work; plain sewing, marking, nettmg, 

The card designates a regular course of education, as it 
proceeds through the successional branches, all of which 
cannot be studied by any individual at the same time. 

Mrs. Beck is an English lady, and is in high reputation 
as an instructress. She was now absent, having taken 
advantage of a vacation, to visit the Olympian Springs, 
about fifty miles from Lexington, much resorted, on account 
of their salubrious effects. 

There is no regular academy for males, but there are 
several day schools. 

[164] The number of inhabitants in Lexington, in 1806, 
was 1655 free white inhabitants, and 1165 negro slaves, in 
all 2820. The whole number may now be safely estimated 
at 3000. 

There are three nail manufacturies, which make about 
sixty tons of nails per annum; and there are ten blacksmith's 
shops, which find constant employment for a considerable 
number of hands. 

There are two copper and tin manufacturies, one of which 
manufactures ware to the amount of ten thousand dollars 
yearly; the other is on a smaller scale. 

There are four jewellers and silversmiths, whose business 
is very profitable. 

Seven saddler's shops employ thurty hands, the proceeds 
of whose labour is annually from twenty-five to thirty 
thousand dollars. 

There are four cabinet-maker's shops, where household 

1 86 

Early Western Tra'uels 

[Vol. 4 

furniture is manufactured in as handsome a style as in any 
part of America, and where the high finish which is given 
to the native walnut and cherry timber, precludes the 
regret that mahogany is not to be had but at an immense 

Three tan yards and five currying shops, manufacture 
about thirty thousand dollars worth of leather every year. 

There is one excellent umbrella manufactury, one brush, 
one reed, four chair, and two tobacco manufacturies which 
make chewing tobacco, snuff and cigars. Three blue- 
dyers. Five hatters, who employ upwards of fifty hands, 
and manufacture about thirty thousand dollars worth of fur 
and wool hats annually. Ten tailors, who employ forty- 
seven journeymen and apprentices. Fifteen shoe and boot 
makers, who employ about sixty hands, and manufacture 
to the amount of about thirty thousand dollars yearly; and 
two stocking weavers. 

Two brew-houses make as good beer as can be got in 
the United States. A carding machine for [165] wool, is a 
great convenience to the manufacturers of that article. 
There is one manufacturer of baling cloth for cotton wool, 
who employs thirty-eight hands, and makes thuty-six thou- 
sand yards annually; and two cotton spinnmg machines, 
worked by horses, yield a handsome profit to the proprie- 
tors. An oil mill, worked by horses, makes fifteen hundred 
gallons of oil per year. Seven distilleries make near 
seven thousand gallons of spirits yearly. Four rope-walks 
employ about sixty hands, and make' about three hundred 
tons of cordage annually, the tar for which is made on the 
banks of Sandy river, and is bought in Lexington at from 
eighteen to twenty-five cents per gallon. There are two 
apothecaries' shops, and five regular physicians. Twenty- 
two stores retail upwards of three hundred thousand dollars 
worth of imported, foreign merchandize annually; and 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


there is one bctok and stationary store on a very large scale, 
and two printing offices, where gazettes are printed weekly.'" 

In the neighbourhood are six powder mills, that make 
about twenty thousand pounds of powder yearly. 

There are seven brick yards which employ sixty hands, 
and make annually two million five hundred thousand 
bricks; and there are fifty brick-layers, and as many attend- 
ants, who have built between thirty and forty good brick 
houses each of the last three years. The Presbyterian 
society is now finishing a church which will cost eight thou- 
sand dollars. 

Manufactures are progressing in several parts of the state. 

In Madison county there has lately been established a 
manufactury on a large scale for spinning hemp and flax. 
It is wrought by water, and is calculated to keep in motion 
twelve hundred spindles, each of which will spin per day, 
half a pound of thread of fineness to make from six to ten 
hundred linen, or [166] four pounds per spindle suitable for 
cotton baling. One hundred and sixty spindles are now at 
work, which have spun a quantity of thread of superiour 

Having been informed that Mr. Prentice, from New 
England, who is keeper of the county gaol, had collected 
much local information respecting Lexington, with an 
intention of publishing an account of its settlement, progress 
and present state, I called on him, and he very politely 
communicated to me every thing I interrogated him on: 
as his book however will be given to the publick on some 
future day, I will not anticipate it; but will merely mention 
one circumstance as a proof how much luxury has progressed 
here. Last year there were in Lexington thirty-nine two 

*" For a sketch of Lexuigloa aod its 6ist two aewspapoa, see Michaui's Trof - 
lb, vol. tii of this series, p. 37, note aS. and F. A. Michaux"! rrotwb, p. 100, oole 

1 8 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

wheel carriages, such as gigs and one horse chaises, valued 
at 5764 dollars, and twenty-one four wheel ones, coaches, 
chariots, &c. valued at 8900 dollars; since when four elegant 
ones have been added to the number. This may convey 
some idea of the taste for shew and expense which pervades 
this country. There are now here, fifteen hundred good 
and valuable horses, and seven hundred milk cows. 

The jx)lice of Lexington seems to be well regulated: as 
one proof of which there is an established nightly watch. 

The copper coinage of the United States is of no use in 
Kentucky — the smallest circulating coin being a silver six- 
teenth of a dollar. 

There are four billiard tables in Lexington, and cards are 
a good deal played at taverns, where it is more customary 
to meet for that purpose than at private houses. 

There is a coffee house here, where is a reading room 
for the benefit of subscribers and strangers, in which are 
forty-two files of difi'erent newspapers from various parts of 
the United States. It is supported [167] by subscribers, who 
pay six dollars each annually, and of which there are now 
sixty. In the same house is a billiard table, and chess and 
back-gammon tables, and the guests may be accommodated 
with wine, porter, beer, spirituous liquors, cordials and con- 
fectionary. It is kept by a Mr. Terasse, formerly of the 
island of St. Bartholomew. He had been unfortunate in 
mercantile business in the West Indies, and coming to this 
country, and failing in the recovery of some property he 
had shipped to New York, he had no other resource left to 
gain a provision for his family, but the teaching of the French 
language and dancing, in Lexington. The trustees of 
Transylvania college (or university, as the Lexington people 
proudly call it) employed him in the former, but had it not 
been for the latter, he might have starved. And here it may 
not be impertinent to remark, that in most parts of the United 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 189 

States, teachers of dancing, meet with more encouragement 
than professors of any species of Uterary science. — Dis- 
gusted at length with the Uttle encouragement he received, 
he bethought himself of his present business, in which he 
has become useful to the town and seems to be reaping a 
plentiful harvest from his ingenuity. He has opened a 
little publick garden behind his house, which he calls 
Vauxhall. It has a most luxuriant grape arbour, and two 
or three summer houses, formed also of grape vines, all of 
which are illuminated with variegated lamps, every Wednes- 
day evening, when the musick of two or three decent per- 
formers sometimes excites parties to dance on a small 
boarded platform in the middle of the arbour. It is becom- 
ing a place of fashionable resort. 

Road to Frankfort — Leesburgh ' — Mulatto innkeeper — 
Interchange of musical entertainment — Frankfort — 
Breakfast under air fans — Sand fit for glass — Marble 
— Publick buildings — Eccentrick character of the keeper 
of the penitentiary — Return — Coles's bad inn — Abuses 
in the post office department. 

We left Lexington after dinner, and taking the left hand 
road of two equally used to Frankfort, we travelled twelve 
miles through a very rich, but not a generally settled country. 

After crossing the Town branch, Wolfe's fork, Steele's 
run, and the South branch of Elkhom river, to which the 
three former are auxiliaries, and on all of which are several 
mills, we arrived at a hamlet of three or four houses called 
Leesburgh, twelve miles from Lexington.'" One of the 
houses had been the seat of the late Col. Lee, and is still 

"• Leestown, laid out by Hancock in :77s. was one of Ihc earliest Mttle- 

tentucky. Because of its locatioQ on the Kentucky River, it seemed 

destined to become a town of importance. In Cuming's time, however, it bad 

dwindled to a mere hamlet, and has since long ceased li 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

owned by his widow, who rents it to a mulatto man named 
Daly, who has converted it into an excellent inn. With 
the house, Daly occupies as much cultivated land as nearly 
supplies his well frequented stables with hay, com and oats. 
There is also a good kitchen garden in which are vast 
quantities of culinary sweet herbs, besides useful vegetables, 
and he has good stabling and other out offices — for all 
which he pays only forty pounds Virginia currency, or one 
hundred and thu-ty-six dollars and two thirds, per annum. 
We experienced the benefit of his spacious icehouse, in the 
fine butter we had at supper, where every thing was good, 
particularly the coffee, which was almost a la Fran(mse. 
Daly having a good violin, on which he plays by ear with 
some taste, he entertained us with musick while we supped, 
in return for which, we played for him afterwards some 
duels, by the aid [169] of another violin, borrowed of young 
Mr. Lee, who resides in the neighbourhood with his mother. 

My good bed did not lull me to repose, partly from the 
strength of our host's coffee, and partly from a stomachick 
affection through indigestion. 

After a sleepless night, the freshness of the morning 
air revived me, and we proceeded towards Frankfort, 
amusing ourselves by the way with talking over the vanity 
and egotism of Mr. Daly, who had entertained us with many 
little anecdotes, connected with some of the first and most 
celebrated characters in the United States, in which he was 
always a principal actor. His vanity however had met with 
a sad check, soon after our alighting at his house, from the 
abuse of a female negro slave from a neighbouring planta- 
tion, who he drove away with a cowskin, and she in return 
lavished on him the most opprobrious epithets, among 
which he seemed to be most hurt by her calling him "an 
Indian looking and a black son of a b — .' ' 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


A fine road, through a more level country than we had 
came through last evening, brought us in two hours, eleven 
miles, to the hill above Frankfort, which from thence was 
seen to advantage, with Kentucky river flowing past it, 
through a deep and narrow valley, confined by steep and 
rather stony hills, which afford a variety, after the fine 
plains, luxuriant forests and rich farms, within twenty miles 
in every direction of Lexington. 

We descended the hill, into the capital of Kentucky, and 
stopped at Weiseger's, the sign of the Golden Eagle, where 
we sat down to a sumptuous breakfast, with two green silk 
air fans kept in motion over our heads, by a little negro 
girl with a string from the ceiling, in a room seventy-two 
feet long."' 

After breakfast I accompanied Mr. A to examine 

a shallow stratum of sand, on the bank of the river, near a 
mineral spring about half a mile below [170] the town, and 
he got a negro who was fishing, to wade to an island opposite, 
and bring some from thence, which had probably accumu- 
lated there by fioods. — He pronounced both kinds proper 
for the manufacture of glass, which was what he had in 
view, but it did [not] seem as if a sufficient quantity could be 
procured for an extensive manufactury. 

We then returned to town, walked through it, and entered 
the state house, from the cupola of which we could distinctly 
count every house, the number of which was exactly ninety, 
most of them well built with brick, and some with rough but 
good marble of a dusky cream colour, veined with both 
blue and red, and capable of a good polish, which is abun- 

" For a sketch ol the history of Franlcfoit, see F. A. Michaui's Tmvtls, vol. ill of 
this series, p. loo, note jg. Darnel Weiscger was a prominenl Frankfori 
who assuied in laying out the town and was one of the commissioiiers chosen for 
of the second Kentucky state-house, 1814. — £d. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

dant in the neighbourhood. The old wooden houses are 
rapidly disappearing to give place to brick, since about two 
years ago. Until that time, attempts had been made at 
every annual sitting of the legislature, to remove the seat 
of government elsewhere, ever since the year 1793, the first 
after the separation of this government from the state of 
Virginia. These attempts having failed, and there having 
been no renewals of them in the last two sessions of the legis- 
lature, the proprietors, under a security of Frankfort being 
established as the permanent capital of the state, have 
become spirited in improvement, and the buildings erected 
since are on a scale and of materials worthy of a capital. 

The publick buildings here, are a state-house, a court- 
house, a gaol, a market-house, the state penitentiary, and a 
government house occupied by Mr. Greenup, who now 
holds that office. 

The state-house of rough marble, is about eighty-six feet 
front, by fifty-four deep. It is an oblong square with a 
square roof, and a cupola containing a bell rising from the 
centre. The house is plain, but roomy and commodious. 
On the first floor are the treasurer's, register's, auditor's, 
and printing offices. [171] On the second, the rooms for 
the representatives of the state, and the federal court of 
appeals, and on the third are the senate chamber, the general 
court and a school room."" 

The court-house is a plain brick building near the state- 
house. — A piazza of five arches opens on the hall for the 
county courts. — The clerk's offices are on the same floor. — 
The jury rooms are on the second floor, and on the third is a 
mason's lodge. 

There are four publick inns, which in point of size, accom- 

'" This was the first penmmer 
stroyed by fire in 1813. For a cu 
1874), ii, p. 346. — Ed. 

Kentucky state-house, buUt in 1794, and de- 
see Collins, HUlory oj Kentucky (Covington, 

1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West 


modation and attendance, are not surpassed in the United 
States, and there are several large houses, where people 
under the necessity of attending the courts, or detained for 
any time in Frankfort, can be accommodated with private 
lodgings. The erection of a permanent wooden bridge over 
the Kentucky has been lately commenced, which will be 
about one hundred and forty yards long from bank to bank, 
the surface of which is about fifty feet above low water 
mark. The present bridge of boats is about sixty-five yards 
between the abutments, and the river now at low water is 
eighty-seven yards wide. Three brigs have been built 
above the bridge, and sent down the Kentucky, the Ohio, 
and the Mississippi, but the Kentucky is not navigable 
during the low water of summer and fall. Coals are brought 
down it nearly three hundred miles and delivered in Frank- 
fort at sixpence per bushel, but wood being yet tolerably 
plenty, they are used only in the penitentiary and by the 

There are several curious strata of marble, rising from 
the margin of the river, like steps of stairs, towards the top 
of the bank on the town side. The marble is covered by a 
stratum of blue limestone, which has [172] over it a super- 
stratum of reddish clay and gravel mixed. 

After dinner we visited the penitentiary accompanied by 
our landlord and Mr. William Hunter, a respectable printer 
and bookseller, and a genteel man, to whom I had brought 
a letter of introduction.'" In our way we passed the govern- 
ment house, which is a good, plain, two story, brick building, 

'" William Hunler was a native of New Jeracy, who had been caplured at an 
early age by a French man-of-war, and carried to France, where he learned the 
trade of printing. In 1793 he returned to America, and fonned a partnenhip 
with Matthew Carey at Fhilndelphla. Two year^ later, he removed weal, and after 
attempting newspapers in several towns Anally established The Palladium al 
Frankfort in 1798, where he was also Stale printer. Later in. life he removed to 
Washington, where he died in 1854. — Ed. 

194 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

and near it we met govemour Greenup, who saluted us with 
much familiarity. He is a plain, respectable looking elderly 
man, much esteemed throughout the state.'" 

The penitentiary is contained within a square area of an 
acre, consequently each side is two hundred and eight feet 
long. The work shops and store houses occupy the front 
and the other three sides are enclosed by a stone wall sixteen 
feet high, surmounted by a sort of entablature of brick about 
three feet high, rounded on the top and projecting about a 
foot from the wall on each side to prevent any attempts of 
the convicts to scale the wall. There are now twenty-four 
miserable wretches confined here for various limitations of 
time, in proportion to the enormity of their crimes, but none 
exceeding ten years, the longest period limited by law. The 
cells of the criminals are in a two story building with a gallery 
on the inside of the area, extending the length of one of the 
sides. Some of the convicts were playing fives, and the 
rest amusing themselves otherwise in the yard. It was 
Sunday, a day always devoted to amusement by those out- 
casts of society, who have their daily task exacted from them 
with rigour during the rest of the week. They are taught, 
and work at every trade for which they have a taste, and 
of which they are capable, so that some who were useless 
burthens on society previous to their confinement, carry 
with them, on their return to the world, the means of earning 
a decent subsistence; though at [173] the same time, perhaps 
the majority, instead of being reformed, become more prone 
to vice, through despair of ever gaining their lost reputation. 
The institution had like to have failed about two years ago, 
through the insufficiency of the superintendants, when a 

"^ Christopher Greenup, third governor of Kentucky, was Virginia bom (1750), 
and served in the Revalution, attaining the rank of colonel. In 17831 he migrated 
to Kentucky, and having already studied law was, two years taler, chosen as cterk 
of the chief court for Kentucky District, His bi^t service for the State was in 
Congress, 1793-97. After his gubernatorial experience (1804-08), he retired lo 
his home near Maysville, where he died in iSiS. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVest 


captain Taylor, a man of good property in Mercer county, 
who was an enthusiastick admirer of it, was prevailed on by 
the govemour to undertalie the management and superin- 
tendance, and it has since not only supported itself, but has 
earned a surplus, which goes into the state treasury. Taylor 
is a stem man of steady habits, and a great mechanical 
genius. He superintends every class of workmen himself, 
and has invented several machines for the improvement of 
mechanicks. He has nailors, coopers, chair makers, turners, 
and stone cutters, the latter of whom cut and polish marble 
slabs of all sizes, and he has taught most of them himself. 

He is a large and strong man, about fifty years of age, 
and either through eccentricity, or to give himself a ter- 
rifick appearance, he wears his dark brown beard about two 
inches long, from each ear round the lower part of the chin. 
It is surely a strange taste, which prompts him to separate 
himself from his family and the world, to exercise a petty 
tyranny over felons, and to live in such constant apprehen- 
sion from them, that, as I was informed, he always carries 

We resisted the polite and friendly importunity of Mr, 
Hunter, to spend the day with him, and quitting Frankfort, 
we took a different route to that by which we had come, 
which brought us, after riding ten miles mostly through 
woods, to Coles's, who keeps an inn on this road, in opposi- 
tion to Daly, on the other. But any traveller, who has once 
contrasted his rough vulgarity, and the badness of his table 
and accommodations, with the taste, order, plenty, and good 
attendance of his mulatto competitor, wUl [i 74] never trouble 
Mr. Coles a second time, especially as there is no sensible 
difference in the length or goodness of the roads, and that 
by Daly's, is through a generally much better settled country. 

We got back to Lexington on Monday, 3d August, in 
time for breakfast, which I partook of at the publick table 
of the Traveller's Inn, merely for curiosity, but notwithstand- 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

ing the apparent elegance of the house, my other landlord's 
(Wilson) suffered nothing in the comparison. 

I whiled away the day in expectation of the post, which 
was to decide whether or not I should have the pleasure of 

my friend A 's company on my return to Pittsburgh, 

but owing to some unaccountable irregularity, which is a 
cause of general complaint in this country against the post- 
office department, it did not arrive until ten at night, al- 
though it was due at eleven in the morning. Another very 
just cause of complaint against the same department is the 
slowness with which the mail is conveyed. A trifling im- 
provement and a very small additional expence, would for- 
ward the mails through the whole western country, where 
the roads are comparatively good, and the climate very fine, 
at the rate of fifty or sixty miles a day, except during floods 
in the winter, where, for want of bridges, the roads are some- 
times impassable in particular spots for a few days, whereas, 
now, in the best season, the average progress of the mails, 
does not exceed thirty miles daily. 

Mr. A— — having an engagement, the day would have 
passed very heavily, had it not been for the coffee house, 
where I amused myself with the wonderful mass of political 
contradiction to be found in forty different newspapers, 
where scarcely any two editors coincided in opinion. 


Departure from Lexington — Bryan's station — Wonderful 
fertility of soil — Paris — Sameness of prospect — Sim- 
plicity of election of state representatives — Frank bird — 
Hasten on ^ Violent attack of fever at May's-lick — 
Washington ^Occasional remarks on hospitahty — Mays- 
ville — Good effects of fortitude and abstinence, 
I LEFT Lexington on Tuesday the 4th August, by a different 

road to that by which I had first entered it, now taking the 

stage and post road direct to Paris. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 



The morning was fine, the road good, and the country well 
settled and improved, but the want of the company of my 
worthy friend A , to which I had now been so long ac- 
customed, was felt by me so sensibly as to make the miles 
appear uncommonly long. 

At four miles I passed a celebrated old military post, 
called Bryan's station, where the first settlers of the state, 
repelled a desperate attack of the Indians, who soon after 
in their turn, ambushed and cut off Col. Todd's little army 
at the Blue licks, as before mentioned. This post is now 
the pleasant seat and fine farm of a Mr. Rogers.'" 

I soon after overtook an Irishman named Gray, who was 
one of the first settlers. He rode two miles with me, and was 
intelligent and communicative. He informed me that the 
usual produce of an acre of this wonderfully luxuriant soil, 
is from forty to fifty bushels of shelled com, or from twenty 
to thirty-seven of wheat clean from the threshing floor. And 
here I must observe, that I have not seen, nor heard of any 
of the threshing machines now so common in the British 
European Isles, in any part of America. As they save so 
much labour, I am astonished that [176] they have not yet 
made their way across the Atlantick. — They would be of 
incalculable utility to the very wealthy farmers of Ken- 

Crossing the North fork of Elkhom, and Hewetson's 
branch of Licking, both good mill streams, I entered Paris, 
eighteen miles from Lexington. It is situated on Stoner's 
fork of Licking, and contains eighty-seven dwelling houses 
mostly good ones, several of them of brick, and six or seven 

It is compact, in three small parallel streets, with a square 
in the centre, on which is a stone meeting house, a neat 

"■ See Durrett, Bryants SimioH (Filson Club Publkationt, No. ta; Louisville, 

Early Western Travels 


brick court house, a small but strong gaol, and a market 
house. It is the seat of justice of Bourbon county, and has 
much appearance of prosperity. From the cupola of the 
court house, there is an extensive view of a very rich country 
as far as the eye can reach in every direction, but though 
it is a country of hills and dales, there is too great a sameness 
to please the eye. 

Perhaps there is not on the earth a naturally richer country 
than the area of sixteen hundred square miles of which Lex- 
ington is the centre, yet there is a something wanting to 
please the eye of taste — a variety, like the fertile plains of 
the Milanese, contrasted vrith the neighbouring Alpine 
scenery, and studded with the noble lakes, and streaked 
■with the meandering rivers of that delightful region, which 
has given such inimitable taste and execution to the pencils 
of so many eminent painters. 

It was the day of election for representatives in the 
legislature of the state. The voting was very simple. The 
county clerk sat within the bar of the court house, and the 
freeholders as they arrived, gave him their names and the 
names of those they voted for, which he registered in a book. 
— That done, the voter remounted his horse and returned to 
his farm. 

The hostler at Buchanan's inn, where I stopped to 
breakfast, is a free negro man named Frank Bird. [177] He 
was formerly owned by the great and good Washington, 
whom he accompanied and served in all his campaigns. 
He had learned farriery, cooking and hairdressing in Eng- 
land in his youth, so that he must have been a useful ser- 
vant. He was liberated and got some land near Mount 
Vernon, by the general's will, and now at the age of fifty- 
seven, he is hostler here, and enjoys such health and strength, 
that a few days ago he carried eight bushels of salt, exceed- 
ing four hundred pounds weight. The old man repaid 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


my complaisance in listening to him, by recounting as 
much of his own memoirs as my time would permit me to 

I left Paris, and passing Millersburgh, and one of the 
first settlements, called the Irish station, four miles further, 
just before entering the barren country three or four miles 
on that side of Blue licks, I spurred my horse past Nicholas- 
ville court house and tavern, where I counted above a 
hundred horses, fastened under trees, I was induced to 
hasten past this place, as the voters in that sterile part of the 
country did not appear quite so peaceable and orderly as 
those I had seen in the morning at Paris, and I was not sure 
but some of them might have been moved by the spirit of 
whiskey to challenge me to run a race with them, or to 
amuse the company with a game of rough and tumble, at 
both which the backwoods Virginians are very dexterous. 

I arrived at May's lick about sunset, much fatigued with 
my ride of fifty-two miles, in one of the hottest days of the 
season. I was very feverish, yet I forced myself, though 
without appetite, to take a light supper, after which I bathed 
my feet in warm water, and retired to bed, where I passed 
a sleepless night in high fever and excessive thirst, which 
being no ways abated at the first dawn of day, I arose and 
called my host to prepare my horse, being determined not 
to sink under my indisposition, while capable [178] of mak- 
ing the smallest exertion. My flushed countenance, black 
and parched lips, and frequent nausea, alarmed my host so 
as to induce him to dissuade me to proceed, but finding me 
decided he prescribed a strong infusion of tansey in Geneva 
— the bitterness of which a little relieved my thirst, but did 
not prevent its return accompanied by nausea and excrucia- 
ting headache, in which situation I arrived at Washington 
at seven o'clock, and returned my horse to its hearty old 
owner with the young fat wife. 

Early Western Travels 


I reposed a while on a bed at my friendly host Ebert's, 
who as well as Mrs. Ebert, was truly kind and hospitable. 

Apropos — That last word just reminds me of a remark 
I have made in the course of my tour. I had letters of 
introduction to some very respectable merchants in different 
parts of this state, which were productive of some general 
advice and information, but without my being invited further 
into their houses than their shops, or (as they are called) 
stores; or witbout having it in my power to excuse myself 
from tasting their wine, cider, whiskey, or any thing else. 
I must except Mr. Hunter of Frankfort, from this general 
remark, and the polite invitation of general Russel on the 
road, was a specimen of the hospitality of the country gen- 
tlemen, which I have heard much boasted of, as brought 
with them from Virginia; so that I cannot absolutely tax 
Kentucky with a total want of that virtue. 

After taking a couple of basons of strong coffee without 
milk, I found myself much relieved, and proceeded on foot 
to Maysville, where I arrived in something more than an 
hour. The exercise of walking had restored my perspira- 
tion, and after two hours repose at my host January's, I 
arose in a state of convalescence, sat down to the dinner 
table, and forced myself to partake of a chicken — after 
which I devoted the remainder of the day to quiet and read- 
ing [179] — took a cup of coffee, retired early — had a good 
night's rest, and felt no more of my fever. 

I am the more minute in describing my indisposition, 
partly to warn other travellers, to avoid excessive fatigue 
under a hot sun, and partly to shew the good effects to be 
derived from fortitude and patience under most diseases. I 
am persuaded that had I obeyed the dictates of my inclina- 
tion, iind my landlord's advice at May's lick, I should have 
experienced a most severe, and probably fatal attack of 
highly inflammatory and bilious fever — but by bearing 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the IVest 201 

up against it — by perseverance in exercise and rest alter- 
nately — checking my strong desire for liquids, and using 
only such as were proi>er for me, and that moderately, and 
especially by refraining from every thing which might have 
the smallest tendency towards keeping up the heat of the 
blood, with the exception of the tansey bitters at May's 
lick, I precluded the necessity of either medicine or profes- 
sional advice. 

Hospitality of farmers — Primative dispensation of justice — 
Ellis's ferry, and Powers' tavern — Squire Leadham — 
West Union — Allen's — A North Carolina cotton planter 
— Brush creek — J. Platter's — A thunder storm — A 
hunter's cabin — Old Lashley — Marshon's. 

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was employed in 
rambling about the woods, exploring and examining a tract 
of land, of a thousand acres, in the state of Ohio, which I 
had purchased when in Europe last year, and which had 
been the principal cause of my present tour. As it was only 
six miles from [180] Maysville, I crossed the Ohio and went 
to it on foot. I had expected to have found a mere wilderness, 
as soon as I should quit the high road, but to my agreeable 
surprise, I found my land surrounded on every side by fine 
farms, some of them ten years settled, and the land itself, 
both in quality and situation, not exceeded by any in this fine 
country. The population was also astonishing for the time 
of the settlement, which a muster of the militia, while I 
was there, gave me an opportunity of knowing — there 
being reviewed a battalion of upwards of five hundred 
effective men, most expert in the use of the rifle, belonging 
to the district of ten miles square. 

And now I experienced amongst these honest and friendly 
farmers real hospitality, for they vied with each other in 

Rarly Western Travels 

[\'ol. , 

lodging me at their houses, and in giving me a hearty and 
generous welcome to their best fare. Robert Simpson from 
New Hampshire, and Daniel Ker and Thomas Gibson 
from Pennsylvania, shall ever be entitled to my grateful 
remembrance. I had no letters of introduction to them — 
I had no claims on their hospitality, other than what any 
other stranger ought to have. — But they were farmers, 
and had not acquired those contracted habits, which I have 
observed to prevail very generally amongst the traders in 
this part of the world. 

On Saturday I returned to Ellis's ferry opposite Mays- 
ville, to give directions for my baggage being sent after me 
by the stage to Chilicothe. 

On the bank of the Ohio I found squire Ellis seated on 
a bench under the shade of two locust trees, with a table, 
pen and ink, and several papers, holding a justice's court, 
which he does every Saturday."'— Seven or eight men were 
sitting on the bench with him, awaiting his awards in their 
several cases.— When he had finished, which was soon after 
I had taken a seat under the same shade, one of the men 
invited the squire to drink with them, which he [i8i] con- 
senting to, some whiskey was provided from landlord Powers, 
in which all parties made a libation to peace and justice. 
There was something in the scene so primative and so 
simple, that I could not help enjoying it with much satis- 

I took up my quarters for the night at Powers's, who is 
an Irishman from Ballibay, in the county of Monaghan. 
He pays squire Ellis eight hundred dollars per annum for 

'" Captain Nathan Ellis with five brothers embarked at Brownsville in I79Sj 
and floating down the Ohio, stopped at Maysville. Finding the Kentucky lands 
well occupied they crossed to the Ohio shore and Nalhsn Ellis established the feny 
bearing his name. The title of the town was later changed to Aberdeen in honor 
of bis native place. On the organization of Adams County, EUts was appointed 
justice of the peace, which office be filled until his death in 1819.^ E 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 203 

his tavem, fine farm and ferry. He and his wife were very 
civil, attentive, and reasonable in their charges, and he 
insisted much on lending me a horse to carry me the first six 
miles over a hilly part of the road to Robinson's tavem, 
but 1 declined his kindness, and on Sunday morning, the 
gth of August, after taking a delightful bath in the Ohio, 
I quitted its banks. I walked on towards the N. E. along 
the main post and stage road seventeen miles to West 
Union,— the country becoming gradually more level as I 
receded from the river, but not quite so rich in soQ and tim- 

The road was generally well settled, and the woods 
between the settlements were alive with squirrels, and all 
the variety of woodpeckers with their beautiful plumage, 
which in one species is little inferiour to that of the bird of 
Paradise, so much admired in the East Indies. 

I stopped at twelve miles at the house of squire Leadham, 
an intelligent and agreeable man, who keeps a tavem, and is 
a justice of the peace. I chose bread and butter, eggs and 
milk for breakfast, for which I tendered a quarter of a dollar, 
the customary price, but he would receive only the half of 
that sum, saying that even that was too much. Such in- 
stances of modest and just honesty rarely occur.'" 

West Union is three years old since it was laid out for 
the county town of Adams county. The lots of one 
third of an acre in size, then sold for about seventy dollars 
each. There were upwards of one [182] hundred lots, 
which brought the proprietor above three thousand dollars. 

'■* Cuming was following the rood known as Zane's Trace, laid out acrou 
Ohio from Wheeling to Maysville va 1796. From EUis's Ferry it passed northeast 
through Adams County, up Brush Creek, through the southwestern corner of 
Highland County, to Byrington and through Perry Township in Pike County, 
down the valley of Paint Creek to Chillicothe. 

William Lcedom (Leadham) kept a tavem where Bentonville, Adatna County, 



Early Western Travels 


It is in a healthy situation, on an elevated plain, and contains 
twenty dwelling houses, including two taverns and three 
stores. It has also a court-house and a gaol, in the former 
of which divine service was performing when I arrived to a 
numerous Presbyterian congregation. One of the houses 
is well built with stone ; one of the taverns is a large framed 
house, and all the rest are formed of square logs, some of 
which are two stories high and very good. 

Having to get a deed recorded at the clerk's office of the 
county, which could not be done until Monday morning,.! 
stopt Sunday afternoon and night at West Union, where my 
accommodations in either eating or sleeping, could not 
boast of any thing beyond mediocrity. 

Monday the loth August, having finished my business 
and breakfasted, I resumed my journey through a country 
but indifferently inhabited, and at four miles and a half from 
West Union, I stopped for a few minutes at Allen's tavern, at 
the request of a traveller on horseback, who had overtaken 
and accompanied me for the last three miles. He was an 
elderly man named Alexander, a cotton planter in the S. W. 
extremity of North Carolina, where he owns sixty-four negro 
slaves besides his plantation — all acquired by industry — 
he having emigrated from Lame in Ireland, in early life, 
with no property. He was now going to visit a brother in 
law near ChOicothe. He had travelled upwards of five 
hundred miles within the last three weeks on the same mare. 
He had crossed the Saluda mountains, and the states of 
Tennessee and Kentucky, and had found houses of accom- 
modation at convenient distances all along that remote 
road, but provender so dear, that he had to pay in many 
places a dollar for half a bushel of oats. 

[183] Allen's is a handsome, roomy, well finished stone 
house, for which, with twenty acres of cleared land, he 
pays a yearly rent of one hundred and ten dollars, to Andrew 

1807-1809} Cuming's Tour to the West 205 

Ellison, near Manchester.'" He himself is four years from 
Tanderagee, in the county Armagh, Ireland, from whence he 
came with his family to inherit some property left him by a 
brother who had resided in Washington, Kentucky, but two 
hundred acres of land adjoining my tract near Maysville, 
was all he had been able to obtain possession of, although 
his brother had been reputed wealthy. I have met many 
Europeans in the United States, who have experienced 
similar disappointments. 

My equestrian companion finding that I did not walk fast 
enough for him, parted from me soon after we left Allen's. 
At two miles from thence I came to Brush creek, a beautiful 
river about sixty yards wide. A new state road crosses the 
river here, but as I had been informed, that there was no 
house on it for ten miles, I preferred keeping up the bank of 
the river on the stage road, which led through a beautiful 
but narrow unsettled bottom, with Brush creek on the right, 
and a steep, craggy precipice on the left, for a mile and a 
half. I then ascended and descended a steep and barren 
ridge for a mile, when I forded the creek to Jacob Platter's 
finely situated tavern and farm on the opposite bank. 

Having rested and taken some refreshment, the growling 
of distant thunder warned me to hasten my journey, as I 
had five miles through the woods to the next habitation. 
The road was fine and level, — the gust approached with 

" The Indian captivity of Andrew Ellison is a well-known tale o( Ohio pioneer 
life. Authorities differ in details; we follow the tradition handed down in the family. 
Andrew Ellison, bom in i7;5, came to Kentucky aj a young man, and in 1790 
accompanied Masaie into Ohio, settling neai Manchester. One day in 171)3, 
while at work on his farm, he was surprised and captured by a band of Indian!. 
Pursuit failing lo overtake them, Ellison was carried to the Chitlicothe towns where 
in running the gauntlet be was severely beaten. Later being taken to Detroit, he 
was ransomed for a blanket by an English officer, and being supplied with food 
and clothing walked back across the state of Ohio, arriving at his home in the early 
autumn. Four years later, he took up a large tract of land on Brushy Creek, 
building thereon a stone bouse — one of the best in the state at that time. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 

(Vol. 4 

terrifick warning — one flash of lightning succeeding another 
in most rapid succession, so that the woods frequently 
appeared as in a flame, and several trees were struck in every 
direction around me, one being shattered within fifty paces 
on my right, while the thunder without intermission of an 
instant was heard in every variety of [184] sound, from the 
deafening burst, shaking the whole surrounding atmosphere 
to the long solemn cadence always interrupted by a new 
and more heavy peal before it had reached its pause. This 
elemental war would have been sublimely awful to me, had I 
been in an open country, but the frequent crash of the 
falling bolts on the surrounding trees, gave me such inces- 
sant warnings of danger, that the sublimity was lost in the 
awe. I had been accustomed to thunder storms in every 
climate, and I had heard the roar of sixty ships of the line 
in battle, but I never before was witness to so tremenduous 
an elemental uproar. I suppose the heaviest part of the elec- 
trick cloud was impelled upon the very spot I was passing. 

I walked the five miles within an hour, but my speed 
did not avail me to escape a torrent of rain which fell during 
the last mile, so that long before I arrived at the hospitable 
dwelling of the Pennsylvania hunter who occupied the next 
cabin, I was drenched and soaked most completely. I 
might have sheltered myself from some of the storm under 
the lee side of a tree, had not the wind, which blew a hurri- 
cane, varied every instant — but independent of that, I 
preferred moving along the road to prevent a sudden chill; 
besides, every tree being a conductor, there is greater danger 
near the trunk of one, than in keeping in a road, however 
narrow, which has been marked by the trees having been cut 

My host and his family had come here from the back 
part of Pennsylvania only last May, and he had already a 
fine field of com and a good deal of hay. He had hitherto 


1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West 207 

been more used to the chase than to farming, and he boasted 
much of his rifle. He recommended his Pennsylvania 
whiskey as an antidote against the effects of my ducking, 
and I took him at his word, though he was much surprised 
to see me use more of it externally than interrally, which I 
did from experience that bathing the feet, hands and head 
[185] with spirituous liquor of any sort, has a much better 
effect in preventing chill and fever, either after being wet 
of after violent perspiration from exercise, than taking any 
quantity into the stomach, which on the contrary rarely 
fails to bring on, or to add to inflammatory symptoms. — A 
little internally however I have found to be a good aid to the 
external application. 

I found at my friendly Pennsylvanian's, a little old man 
named Lashlcy, who had taken shelter at the beginning of 
the gust, which being now over, he buckled on his knapsack, 
and we proceeded together. He had travelled on foot from 
Tennessee river, through a part of the state of Tennessee, 
quite across Kentucky, and so far in Ohio in nine days, at 
the rate of thuty-six miles a day. He had assisted in navi- 
gating a boat from Indian Wheeling, where he lived, to 
Tennessee, for which he had got thirty dollars, ten of which 
he had already expended on his journey so far back, though 
using the utmost economy. He remarked to me, that 
although he was upwards of sixty years of age, and appar- 
ently very poor, he had not got gratuitously a single meal 
of victuals in all that route. Are not hospitality and 
charity more nominal than real virtues ? 

The country for the next five miles is tolerably well im- 
proved, and there is a good brick house which is a tavern 
owned by one Wickerham at the first mile, and a mile 
further is Horn's tavern, where the stage sleeps on its route 
to the N. E. towards Chilicothe. 

Old Lashley complaining of fatigue, we stopped at Mar- 

Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

shon's farm house, ten miles from Brush creek, where find- 
ing that we could be accommodated for the night, we agreed 
to stay, and were regaled with boiled com, wheaten griddle 
cake, butter and mUk for supper, which our exercise through 
the day gave us good appetites for, but I did not enjoy my 
bed so [i86] much as my supper, notwithstanding it was the 
second best in the house, for besides that it was not remark- 
able for its cleanliness, I was obliged to share it with my old 
companion ; fatigue however soon reconciled me to it, and I 
slept as well as if I had lain on down between lawn sheets. 

Marshon is from the Jerseys, he has a numerous family 
grown up, and is now building a large log house on which 
he means to keep a tavern. Three of his sons play the violin 
by ear — they had two shocking bad violins, one of which 
was of their own manufacture, on which they scraped away 
without mercy to entertain us, which I would most gladly 
have excused, though I attempted to seem pleased, and I 
believe succeeded in making them think I was so. 

The land is here the worst I had seen since I had left 
the banks of the Ohio; it had been gradually worse from 
about two miles behind squire Leadham's, and for the last 
two miles before we come to Marshon's it had degene- 
rated into natural prairies or savannas, with very little wood, 
and none deserving the name of timber, but well clothed 
with brush and low coarse vegetation. 

Heistant's — Lashley goes on before — Sinking springs — 
Fatiguing road — Broadley's — Musical shoemaker — 
Talbot's — Dashing travellers — Bainbridge — Platter's 
— Irish schoolmaster — Reeves's — Paint creek — Cat- 
tail swamp — Rogers's North fork of Paint — Arrival 
at Chilicothe — Meeker's. 

On Tuesday morning the nth August, we arose with 
the davm, and notwithstanding there was a steady small 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


rain, we pursued our journey, having first paid Marshon 
fully as much for our simple and coarse accommodations, 
as the best on the road would have cost, but our host I sup- 
pose thought his stories and his son's musick were equivalent 
for all other deficiencies. 

The land was poor, and no house on the road until we 
arrived at Heistant's tavern, four miles from Marshon's, 
where we met the Lexington stage. 

My morning walk had given me an appetite for break- 
fast, which my fellow traveller not being willing to be at 
the expence of, declined, and saying that as I walked so 
much faster than him I would soon overtake him, he went 
on, intending to satisfy his stomach occasionally with some 
bread and cheese from his knapsack, and a drop of whiskey 
from his tin canteen, from which he had made a libation at 
first setting out, and had seemed surprised at my refusal of 
his invitation to partake. 

Heistant is a Pennsylvania German, and has a good and 
plentiful house, in a very pleasant situation, called the 
Sinking springs, from a great natural curiosity near it. 
On the side of a low hill, now in cultivation, are three large 
holes, each about twenty feet deep and twenty feet diameter, 
about sixty paces apart, with a subterraneous communica- 
tion by which the water is conveyed from one to the other, 
and issues in a fine rivulet at a fourth opening near the 
[188] house, where Heistant's milk house is placed very 
judiciously. The spring is copious and the water very 

After a good breakfast I walked on alone, and at about a 
mile, I entered on a dreary forest having first passed Irwin's 
tavern, a pleasant situation where the stage sleeps going 
towards the S. westward. Three miles from Irwin's, is 
over very broken, but well timbered hills, to the left of which 

ig springs I 

erof Highland County, Ohio. — Ed. 

2 1 o Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

on Brush creek, I wjts informed, that there is a fine set- 
tlement, but it is not in sight of the road. The next two 
miles was through a beech bottom, which was rendered so 
miry by the rain that poured on me all the time, that it was 
most laborious walking through it. About the middle of it, 
I met three men in hunting shirts with each an axe in his 
hand. Their appearance in that solitary situation was no 
ways agreeable; however, we gave each other good day, and 
they told me that old Lashley had desired them to inform 
me that he would await me at Bradley's, the next house, but 
when I came there, he had just departed, so that I might 
have very soon overtaken him, had I not preferred being 
alone, to effect which the more certainly, I stopped to rest, 
as it was a house of private entertainment. Bradley and his 
wife are about sixteen years from Stewartstown, county 
Tyrone in Ireland, and have a daughter lately married to a 
young shoemaker named Irons at the next cabin, where I 
stopped to get my shoes mended. I here found a dozen of 
stout young fellows who had been at work repairing the 
road, and were now sheltering themselves from the increas- 
ing storm, and listening to some indifferent musick made by 
their host on a tolerably good violin. I proposed taking 
the violin while he repaired my shoes. He consented 
and sat down to work, and in a few minutes I had all 
the lads jigging it on the floor merrily; Irons himself, as 
soon as he had repaired the shoes, jumping up and joining 

[189] Seemg no prospect of the storm ceasing, I satisfied 
my shoemaker for his trouble, with something more agreeable 
to him than my musick, and then set off to reach Talbot's, 
said to be a good tavern, three miles furthet 

The road led over the highest hill which I had yet seen 
since I left the Ohio, and afterwards through a level, well 
wooded, but thinly inhabited country. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 

In an hour I was at Talbot's, which is a good two story 
house of squared logs, with a large barn and excellent 
stabling, surrounded by a well opened and luxuriant farm, 
with a fine run of meadow. 

The landlord and his family are seven years from Nenagh 
in the county Tipperary, and is the first Irish settler, I 
had seen on my tour, from any other part than the north of 
Ireland. He had kept Ellis's ferry on the Ohio, where 
Powers now resides, for some years, and has lately 
rented this house and farm from Mr. Willis of Chilicothe, 
the contractor for carrying the mail from Wheeling to Lex- 

Observing a new stage wagon in the 3'ard, my host in- 
formed me that it was one which Mr. Willis intended in a 
few days to commence running between Chilicothe and 
Ellis's ferry, so that it, and the one already established, will 
each run once a week on different days. 

I shifted my wet clothes, and then (there being no doctor 
nearer than Chilicothe, twenty-four miles) prescribed medi- 
cine and regimen for Talbot's little daughter, who was 
suffering under a severe and dangerous attack of a nervous 

Three young men on horseback arrived soon after me, 
and were shewn into the same room. They talked a little 
largely, according to a very common custom among young 
travellers, intimating that they were just returning from the 
Olympian springs in Kentucky, a place of very fashionable 
resort, where they had been on a party of pleasure, and where 
they [190] had attended more to cards, billiards, horse 
jockeying, &c. than to the use of the waters for medicinal 
purposes. I am however much mistaken, if they had not 
been travelling on business, and took the opportunity of 
visiting those celebrated springs, which are the Bath of 
Kentucky, and which they now affected to speak of as the 

2 1 2 Karly Western Travels [Vol, 4 

sole cause of their journey."* I listened with much amuse- 
ment to their dashing conversation, knowing tolerably well 
how to estimate it, in a country where vanity in the young 
and ambition among the more advanced in life are predomi- 
nant features. I do not confine this remark to the state of 
Ohio, where probably there is less of either than in the older 
states, in which, particularly to the southward of New Eng- 
land, they seem to be national characteristics. 

We supped together and were then shewn to our beds 
by the landlord, who probably thought that the custom of 
two in a bed was general in America, by his shewing the 
whole four into a room with two beds: I followed him how- 
ever down stairs, and soon had a good bed prepared for me 
in a room by myself. 

On Wednesday morning the 12th August, I proceeded 
through a wilderness of fine land well adapted for cultiva- 
tion, and finely timbered to Bainbridge, a hamlet of eight 
cabins, a large stone house building, a blacksmith shop, a 
post-office, and a store kept by William Daly for Hum- 
phrey Fullerton of Chilicothe. Daly told me that he had a 
good deal of business for the five months he had been here, 
there being a populous and well cultivated country in the 
neighbourhood on Buckskin and Paint creeks, at the falls 
of the latter of which, about a mile to the northward of 
Bainbridge are some of the best mills in the state, owned 
by Gen. Massey, who is also proprietor of Bainbridge, 
which he laid out for a town about a year ago, selling the 
lots at about thirty dollars each. 

[191] The reason assigned for the lands being generally 
so badly settled along the roads, is, that they belong to wealthy 
proprietors, who either hold them at a very high price, or 
will not divide them into convenient sized farms. 

"* Olympian Springs was in Bath County, Kentucky, a few miles southeast of 
Ovringsburg. Its popularity has declined; in iS8o there were but twenty-five 
inhabitants at the place.— Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


From Bainbridge to Reeves's on the bank of Paint creek, 
is through a fine well wooded level, with hills in sight from 
every opening in the woods, about a mile distant. I passed 
a finger post on the left, a mile from Bambridge, pointing 
to the westward and directing to Cincinnatti seventy-three 
miles, and immediately after I left Platter's tavern and well 
cultivated farm on the right, a little beyond which Is a 
school-house, where I observed the school-master, an Irish 
looking old man, with silver grey locks and barefooted, his 
whole appearance, and that of the cabin which was the 
school, indicating but little encouragement for the dissemi- 
nating of instruction. 

A mile from Platter's I stopped at Reeves's, where I hxid 
been informed I could be well accommodated, although 
it was not a tavern, and I proved my information to be cor- 
rect, as I immediately got the breakfast I asked for, excel- 
lent bread, and rich milk, neatly served, in a large handsome 
and clean room, for which it was with difficulty I could pre- 
vail on Mrs. Reeves to accept any recompence. 

This house is charmingly situated near the bank of Paint 
creek, and was the best I had seen since I entered the state 
of Ohio, it being spacious, of two lofty stories, and well 
built with very handsome stone. It is surrounded on all 
sides by a noble and well improved farm, which nine years 
ago, when Reeves came here from Washington in Pennsyl- 
vania, was a wilderness. He built his handsome house about 
five years ago, and at some distance on the bank of the 
creek, he has a large tanyard and leather shop, from 
whence one of his men, ferried me across the creek in a 

[iga] Paint creek is a beautiful little river about forty 
yards wide, running easterly to join the Scioto near Chili- 

My walk from hence to the north fork of Paint creek, 

2 1 4 Early Western Travels [\'ol. 4 

was a most fatiguing one, being thirteen miles, mostly along 
a very rich bottom, with the creek, on the right, and steep 
hills on the left, over spurs of which the road sometimes 
leads, which was always a relief to me, after wading for 
miles through the mud below. This tract is tolerably well 
settled, the soil being esteemed as rich as any in the state. 
At eleven miles from Reeves's, is a hamlet of six or seven 
cabins called Cat-tail swamp, and two miles further I came 
to Rogers's on the bank of the north fork of Paint. 

Reeves's appears to be the best land and the best improved 
farm on this side the Ohio, but Rogers's, nearly as good a 
soil, is I think superiour in beauty of situation. The house 
which is a story and a half high is of square logs, and com- 
modious enough for a farm house. It is on a moderately 
high bank, from whence they descend to the river by a flight 
of wooden steps, at the foot of which is a most beautiful 
spring which flows into a cask sunk on purpose, and from 
thence is conveyed by a small spout into the river, whose bank 
is guarded by a natural wall of soft slate, which I think 
could be easily wrought into good covering for houses. 
Nature has formed natural stairs of the slate, by which one 
may descend to any depth into the river for bathing, washing 
linen, or for any purpose which may be necessary, in pro- 
portion as the river rises or falls. A swimmer may also 
enjoy that invigorating exercise charmingly, as though the 
river is only about thirty yards wide, it is at this place 
sufficiently deep, and the current is moderate. Rogers 
has been here about nine years from Virginia, and was one 
of the first settlers in this part of the country. 

[193] I supped and slept here, and next morning, Thurs- 
day the 13th August, after refreshing by swimming in the 
river, I pursued my way to ChUicothe four miles, the first 
mile and half of which was over a chain of moderately high 
and not very steep hills of a tolerably good soil, to colonel 


Cuming's Tour to the West 

M'Arthur's elegant stone house and noble farm.'" The 
other two miles and a half was through "a level plain, pass- 
ing a neat house and handsome improvement of Mr. Henry 
Massey's, just before entering Chilicothe, which I did at 
eight o'clock, stopping at Muker's tavern, as the breakfast 
bell rang, which summoned seventeen or eighteen boarders 
and travellers to an excellent breakfast with good attend- 
ance, to which I did ample justice, after my bath and walk. 

The Scioto — Chilicothe — Indian monument — Fine pros- 
pect — Colonel M'Arthur's — Colonel Worthington's. 
ICHlLlcoTHE^which signifies town in most of the Indian 
dialects, is most beautifully^situated on the right bank of 
the Scioto, about forty-five miles by land, and nearly seventy 
following its meanders from the confluence of that river 
with the Ohio, between Portsmouth and Alexandria. In all 
that distance the river has a gentle current, and unimpeded 
navigation for large keels, and other craft for four feet 
draught of water. It continues navigable for smaller 
boats and batteaux upwards of one hundred miles above 
Chilicothe^ towards its source to the northward, from whence 
it glides gently through a natujally rich, level, and rapidly 
improving country. 

"'The home of General McArtfaur was known u "Fruil Hill." Duncan 
McAitbuT was of Scotch parentage, bora in New Yorit in 1773- Left eaiij to 
his own resources, he volunteered under Harms* in 1791, worked at the Majsville 
salt-works, and in 1793 became chain-bearer for General Massie in the latler'a 
MTvey of Ohio lands. McArthur's industry and capacity soon secured his pro- 
motion to the position of assistant surveyor, and by judicious choice of lands he 
acquired wealth and prominence. Having been major-genenil of Ohio militia 
(or some years, his services were called for in (he War of 1813-15, '^^ f"* "m at 
Detroit when it was surrendered by Hull. Released on parole, he was elected to 
Congress, whence he resigned to become brigadier-generaJ in the army, and served 
in the Western division thereof throughout the war. Later began his political 
career, consisting of two terms in Congress (1811-26), and the governorship of 
Oliio (1830). But as an antt-Jacksanian, he failed of re-clcction, and retired to 
"Fruit Hill "where he died in 1840.— Ed. 

2 1 6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

[194] The situation of the town, which is the capital of 
the state,'" is on an elevated and extensive plain of nearly 
ten thousand acres of as fine a soil as any in America, 
partly in cultivation and partly covered with its native for- 

This plain is nearly surrounded by the Scioto, which 
turning suddenly to the N. E. from its general southerly 
course, leaves the town to the southward of it, and then 
forms a great bend to the eastward and southward. 

Water street which runs about E. by N. parallel to the 
Scioto, is half a mile long, and contains ninety houses. It 
is eighty-four feet wide, and would be a fine street, had not 
the river floods caved in the bank in one place near the mid- 
dle, almost into the centre of it. There is now a lottery 
on foot, to raise money for securing the bank against any 
further encroachments of the river. Main street, parallel 
to Water street, is one hundred feet wide, as is Market street 
which crones both at right angles, and in which is the 
market-house, a neat brick building eighty feet long. The 
court-house in the same street is neatly built of freestone, 
on an area of forty-five by forty-two feet, with a semicir- 
cular projection in the rear, in which is the bench for the 
judges. It has an octangular belfry rising from the roof, 
painted white with green lattices, which is an ornament to 
the town, as is the small plain belfry of the Presbyterian 
meeting-house, a handsome brick building in Main street; 
in which street also is a small brick Methodist meeting- 
house. These are the only places of publick worship in 
the town, if I except the court-house, which is used occa- 
sionally by the Episcopalians and other sects. 

[195] The whole number of dwelling houses in Chilicothe, 
as I counted them, is two hundred and two, besides four 

:W3D of the legislature, the seat of the • 
n the Muskingum river. — Cbaicek. 


Cuming's Tour to the West 

brick and a few framed ones now building. I reckoned only 
six taverns with signs, which small proportion of houses of 
that description, speaks volumes in favour of the place. 
There are fourteen stores, a post-office, and two printing- 
offices, which each issues a gazette weekly,'" 

The scite of the town being on a gravelly soil, the streets 
are generally clean. The houses are of freestone, brick, 
or timber clap-boarded, the first of which is got in the 
neighbourhood, is of a whitish brown colour, and excellent 
for building. They are mostly very good and are well 

On the whole I think Chilicothe is not exceeded in beauty 
of plan, situation, or appearance, by any town I have seen in 
the western part of the United States. 

There is a remarkable Indian monument in Mr. Watch- 
up's garden in the very heart of the town. — Like that at 
Grave creek, it is circular at the base, about seventy or 
eighty feet diameter, but differs from that, by being roimd, 
instead of flat on the top, which has an elevation of about 
thirty feet perpendicular from the level of the plain. It is 
formed of clay, and though it has been perforated by the 
proprietor, nothing has been found to justify the common 
opinion of these mounts having been barrows or cemeteries. 
They talk of having it levelled, as it projects a little into 
Market street, but I think it a pity to destroy any of the 
very few vestiges of aboriginal population, which this 
country presents to the curious and inquisitive traveller. 

From a steep hill, about three hundred feet perpendicular 
height, just outside the western extremity of the town, is a 
most charming view of the streets immediately below, under 
the eye like a plan on paper: Then the Scioto, from one 
hundred to one hundred [196] and fifty yards wide, winding 

c the Scwlo GmeOe and The Supporltr, the Utter & Federelist 

paper in existence Irom 180; to 1811. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

on the left, and some low hills about two miles beyond it 
terminating the view, to the N. E. while to the eastward and 
westward, as far as the eye can reach both ways, is spread 
a country, partly flat, and partly rising in gentle swells, 
which if cultivation proceeds in equal proportion, to what 
it has done since Chilicothe was first laid out about ten 
years ago, must, in a very short time present one of the 
finest landscapes imaginable. 

Colonel M'Arthur coming to town was polite enough to 
invite me to take a bed at his house, which I had passed about 
two miles back in the morning. I found the situation sur- 
passed what I had thought of it then, when I only saw it from 
the road, it commanding a beautiful and extensive prospect 
including the town of Chilicothe, which, however is now seen 
rather indistinctly on account of the foliage of some trees 
on the brow of a small projecting hill, which will probably 
soon be cut down. 

Next morning, Friday, 14th August, I walked before 
breakfast half a mile through the woods to the northward, 
to an elegant seat belonging to Col. Worthington."* It will 
be finished in a few weeks and will be one of the best and 
most tasty houses not only of this state, but to the westward 
of the Allegheny mountains. It is about sLxty feet square, 
with a square roof, and two large receding wings. It has 
two lofty stories, with six rooms on each floor, and cellars 

'" Colonel Thomas Worthjngtou was a Virginian who had emigrated to Ohio 
in 1 79B. He liberated over forty slaves on coming to the Northwest Territory, and 
was a pTonnunced upholder of free labor. His services for his adopted state were 
considerable. The year after his first arrival he was sent to Ihe terrilorial legis- 
lattlre; is the Stale Constitutional Convention (i8o>) it was Colonel Worthington 
who proposed the northward extension of the boundary. Turning to national 
affairs, he represented Ohio in the United States Senate for two terms (1803-071 
tSio-14), and returned to serve as governor of his adopted state for four years 
(1815-19), His remaining years were given to service in the Stale legialature, 
developing the common-school system, championing sound finance and internal 
improvements. He died in New York City in 1817. The home of which Ci 
here speaks was known as " Adena," and is still standing. — Ed. 


18C7-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 2 1 9 

and vaults beneath. The wings contain kitchen, scullery, 
apartments for servants, &c. 

Like colonel M'Arthur's it is built with freestone, but the 
stone of the front is all hewn and squared, like the generality 
of the houses in the new part of Glasgow in Scotland, the 
stone being very similar both in colour and quality. The 
situation is like Col. M'Arthur's, being on the brow of the 
same ridge of hills, and affording nearly the same prospects. 
Both houses were built by two young Virginians of the 
[197] name of Morris, who are almost self taught masons 
and architects, and whose work and style does them much 

1 returned to town on Friday after breakfast, and dined, 
supped and slept at Muker's, which is a very good and well 
frequented inn, and at five o'clock on Saturday the 15th 
August, I left Chilicothe in the stage vrith a Mr. M'Cammon 
of Charleston and two other passengers. 

Congo — Crouse's mill — Pickaway plains — Beautiful 
prairies — Tarleton and Lybrant's excellent inn — Ves- 
tiges of a great fire — River Hockhocking — New Lan- 
caster — Babb's — Jonathan's creek — Springfield — 
River Muskingum and falls — Zanesville. 

We crossed the Scioto at a ferry from the town, the stage 
and four horses being all carried over in the boat. 

The first two miles were over a rich bottom, subject to 
inundation from the river floods in the winter. We had 
then three miles of a hilly country to Congo, a fine settlement 
in and round a beautiful prairie, a mile long to Crouse's 
mill. This Crouse is a wealthy man, having a good house 
and offices, a farm of two sections, containing thirteen 
hundred acres, and an excellent mill house and mill wrought 
by a creek which crosses the road and falls into the Scioto 

E^rly Western Travels 


half a mile on the left. Another mile brought us to Rickey's 
tavern, from whence a road leads to the left to Pickaway 
Plains, which is a noble and rich prairie, on the west side 
of the Scioto, fourteen miles long, formerly a principal set- 
dement of the Indians,'" and [198] now well inhabited by 
their white successors, who have a town called Levingston 
on the Prairie. 

From Rickey's to M'Cutchin's tavern is four miles, 
across a beautiful savanna, variegated with clumps of trees, 
and fine groves, with farms at every half mile. We. here 
stopped for a few minutes to water the horses, and I ex- 
changed my seat in the stage, with a Mr. Willis of Chili- 
cothe,"* who had accompanied us on horseback, on his way 
to the federal city, Washington, to make some arrangements 
respecting the mails. The exchange suited us both, as on 
horseback I had a better view of the country, and his health 
being delicate, he preferred the stage. 

The next six miles were through a thinly wooded but 
rich plain, with a farm every mile, and a tavern every three 
miles. The road was so far level but very miry, then another 
mile and a half over some hilly and broken land brought 
us to Lybrant's tavern. 

Had I not been informed, I should not have known that 

■• Pidiaway Plains, in Pickaway County south of Circleville, was said to con- 
tain the richest land in Ohio. It was a noted rendezvous for the Sha.wnees: from 
bence started the army that Lewis defeated at Point Pleasant (1774). and here at a 
camp which he called Camp Charlotte in honor oE the queen, Lord Dunmore made 
the peace that ended the war. Here, also, Chief Logan's famous speech was de- 
livered. — Ed. 

'** Nathaniel Willis, the grandfather of the poet by tliat name, was a printer, 
who prided himself on having been a participanl in the Boston Tea-party. During 
the Revolution, he was proprietor of the Boston Independent Chronicle. On peace 
being declared, he wcnl to Virginia, and at Martinsburg published for a few yeaia. 
the Potomac Guardian. Tempted by reports from the new territory, he once more 
removed and established (probably in 1800) the Scioto Giaitle at Chillicothe, the 
third newspaper of the state. He was also, for a lime, state printer, and as Cuming 
informs us connected with the forwarding of the mail. — Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour £0 the West 221 

I was now in the town of Tarlettn, as there was but one 
other house besides the tavern; three or four more were 
however just going to be built, and our landlord had no 
doubt of its soon becoming a smart town. The lots were 
sold at from sixteen to twenty-five dollars each. 

Lybrant's is one of the best and most reasonable inns I 
had met with in my tour. At one o'clock we set down to a 
most excellent breakfast of good coffee, roast fowls, chicken 
pie, potatoes, bread and butter, and cucumbers both sliced 
and pickled, all not only good, but delicate and fine even 
to the pastry, which is very uncommon in this country, and 
our charge was only a quarter of a dollar. 

For eight miles from Tarleton, the road runs through 
low, rich and miry black oak woods, and now and then a 
small prairie, and settlements not [199] nearer each other 
than every two miles. The country then rising into hills 
the road improves, but it continues equally thinly inhabited, 
the settlements being mostly on what is called the old county 
road, which runs parallel to the state road about a mile and 
a half to the northward of it, and is better and shorter by a 
mile between Chilicothe and New Lancaster. 

After riding a mile among the hills I passed Stukey's 
tavern, for six miles beyond which the face of the country 
is very picturesque; the tops of the hills terminating in 
rocks, some impending and some perpendicular, while the 
road leads through a defile winding round their bottoms. 
The whole country is covered with dwarf oak, and other low 
shrubs and bushes and some thinly scattered black oaks of 
stunted growth. This scarcity of timber is partly owing 
to the poverty of the soil, and partly to the effect of fire, 
which must have gone through this whole district of six or 
seven miles, and that at no very distant period back, from 
many evident marks still remaining. What a grand yet 
awful scene must have been such a tract of woods in flames ! 

Rarly Western Travels 


There is no house for three miles from Stukey's tavem, 
and from that to within a mile of New Lancaster, there are 
but two other settlements. — Then, on descending a low hill, 
and emerging from the woods into an extensive natural 
meadow on the western bank of the Hockhocking, that town 
presents itself suddenly to view, well situated on a rising 
ground on the opposite side of the river, and making a better 
appearance at that distance than it has on entering it. A 
wooden bridge crosses the river, which is here only a rivulet 
just below the town, and here I passed a number of men 
engaged in racing their horses. 

New Lancaster'" is a compact little town of one wide 
Street, about six hundred paces long, containing [200] sixty 
houses, amongst which is a neat little court house of brick, 
forty-two by thirty-six feet, just built, with a cupola belfry. 
There are six stores and nine taverns. There is but one 
brick house, ail the rest being of wood, amongst which con- 
spicuously the best is that of Mr. Bucher a lawyer. In 
most towns in the United States, the best houses are chiefly 
inhabited by gentlemen of that profession. 

After supping at the inn where the stage stopped, I was 
shewn to bed up stairs in a barrack room the whole extent 
of the house, with several beds in it, one of which was already 
occupied by a man and his wife, from the neighbouring 
country, who both conversed with me until I feigned sleep, 
in hopes that would silence them, but though they then 
ceased to direct their discourse to me, they continued to talk 
to each other on their most private and domestick affairs, as 
though there had been no other person in the room. In 

'** The site of New Lancaster had previously been that of a well-known Indian 
village called Standing Stone [rom an eminence in the vicinity. It was the most 
southwestern town of the Delawares in Ohio, and was also called French Mar- 
garet's Town, bcfause a daughter of Madame Montour had at one time resided 
therein. As an American settlement it was laid out by Zane in iSoo; tatci, "New' 
was dropped from its title by legislst 


1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West 


spite of their conversation I at last fell asleep, but I was 
soon awoke in torture from a general attack made on me by 
hosts of vermin of the most troublesome and disgusting 
genii. I started from the bed, dressed myself, spread a 
coverlet on the floor, and lay down there to court a little 
more repose, but I was prevented by a constant noise in the 
house during the 4. whole night, beginning with church 
musick, among which some sweet female voices were dis- 
cernible, and ending in the loud drunken froUcks of some 
rustick guests, who kept Saturday night until late on Sunday 

Previous to going to bed I had sauntered round the town, 
and I observed all the taverns filled with guests in the rough- 
est style of conviviality, from which I infer that the last day 
of the week is generally devoted to the orgies of Bacchus; 
by the same classes of people who on the succeeding day, 
attend with pious regularity the dogmatick lectures of some 
fanatick dispenser of the gospel. What an heterogeneous 
[201] animal is man! — sometimes exalted to an approach 
towards divinity, sometimes debased to lower than brutality: 
— A perpetual struggle between the essence and the dregs. 

The dawn of morning relieved me from my uncomfortable 
couch, and going dovm stairs, I found all as silent as an 
hour before it had been noisy. I walked out into the town, 
where the same stillness prevailed, so I lounged along the 
banks of the Hockhocking enjoying the morning air, until a 
thick mist rising with the sun envelopped me, when I re- 
turned to the inn and finding the stage ready to depart, I 
again mounted Mr. Willis's horse, and set out in advance 
of it. 

Leaving New Lancaster and the fog below, I proceeded 
eighteen miles through a hilly country, with settlements 
within every mile, many of which were taverns. I then 
stopped at Babb's, the sign of the house, appropriate to its 


Early Western Travels 

fv-oi. 4 

being the half way house between Lancaster and Zanesville. 
Here an old father, two sons and three daughters, (spruce, 
well formed girls, with a most wonderful volubility of 
tongue) worried we with questions, until I excused myself 
from further gratifying their inexhaustible curiosity by 
pleading fatigue, and throwing myself on a bed, I awaited 
the arrival of the stage, about an hour, when we got an 
excellent breakfast, every article of which served as a topick 
for conversation to our garrulous entertainers, who affected 
to know a little of every thing and of every body. 

Nine miles from Babb's, through a similar country and 
very bad road with houses and taverns as in the morning, 
brought me to Jonathan's creek, a handsome little river, 
about twenty yards wide, which I forded. The road was 
now generally level seven miles to Springfield, mostly 
through pleasant and rich little bottoms, with the creek close 
on the right more than half the way, and the country so 
thickly [202] inhabited, that was it not for the dead girdled'" 
trees every where in the com and wheat fields and meadows, 
it would have the appearance of an old settlement. 

About a mile from Springfield I passed through a fine 
plain of a light sandy soil very proper for small grain, such 
as wheat, rye and oats, which has been cleared previous to 
this country being knovsm to the whites. It is now covered 
with dwarf oak, hazle, and other copse wood, and contains 
probably fifteen hundred acres. 

Springfield is a long straggling village, on a fine flat, 
sheltered on the north by a small chain of low but abrupt 
hills, and bounded on the south by the beautiful river Mus- 
kingum. The road or street is of clean gravel, and the 

" A bastj and temporary way of clearing Und, hy notching the bark all round 
the trunks oC the large trees, which kills them, and in a few yeais they fall by their 
own lop weight aided by the least gust of wind, if not cut down in the interim at the 
increasing leisure of the cultivaior, — Cbamek. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


cabins are distinguished from those I had hitherto seen by 
their chimneys of brick, instead of stone or logs. There 
are some good brick houses building, and some taverns and 
some stores, which give it a thriving appearance. There is 
also a fine grist and saw mill at the falls of the Muskingum at 
the upper end of the town. That river is about a hundred 
yards wide at the ferry just below the falls, which are formed 
by its being precipitated in a sheet, over a rock of about three 
feet perpendicular depth, which extends quite across, and is 
a fine object in the surrounding picturesque scenery. An- 
other good object is a cliff impending over the falls, which 
terminates the chain of low hills behind Springfield. 

I crossed the ferry to Zanesville, and dismounted at an 
inn where the stage generally stops. On entering I walked 
into a room, the door of which was open, where the first 
object that met my eye was the [203] corpse of a female, laid 
out in her shroud on a bier. There was no person in the 
room but another female who was seated near the corpse, 
and to whom I apologized for my abrupt entrance, explain- 
ing my reasons as being in advance of the stage. She an- 
swered by wishing she had some mode of preventing the 
stage from driving up to the house, as her sister had died 
that morning, and it would be inconvenient to accommo- 
date travellers that night, on which I remounted, rode to 
the post office, where I found the stage delivering the mail, 
from whence in consequence of my information, the driver 
took us to Harvey's very good inn, where we found an 
excellent supper, clean beds, a consequential host and 
hostess, and the highest charges I had hitherto paid in 

Zanesville was laid out for a town six or seven years ago. 
It contains forty houses much scattered and does not seem 
to thrive so much as Springfield, which is only two or three 
years old, contains fifty houses, and bids fair to become of 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol, 4 

more consequence than Zanesville,'" notwithstanding the 
latter is the county town of Muskingum county. It was 
named after Mr. Zane of WheeHng, who as a recompense for 
opening the first road from Wheeling to Chilicothe, got a 
grant of three sections of land of six hundred and forty 
acres each. On one section he founded Zanesville; on 
another, New Lancaster, and the third is part of the rich 
bottom on the bank of the Scioto opposite to Chilicothe. 

Brown's — Extensive prospect — Anticipation — Ensloe's — 
Will's creek plains — Will's creek — European and 
American drivers compared — Cambridge — Beymer's — 
Drove of cattle — Two travelling families — Good effects 
of system. 

On Monday 17th August, I proceeded from Zanesville 
before breakfast. The first nine miles were through a hilly 
country with houses every mile or two, the road tolerably 
good except in a few steep or miry spots. I then passed 
Brown's tavern, most romantically situated in a deep and 
narrow valley, with Salt creek, a rivulet which I crossed, 
running through it. Two genteel looking travellers were 
at Brown's door as I passed. It was about breakfast time. 
My appetite tempted me to stop and join them, but reflecting 
the stage would then get before me, I repressed it, and trotted 
on towards the usual place of breakfast of the stage. 

From Salt creek, I ascended half a mUe of a steep road 
to the highest hill which I had been yet on in this state, and 
keeping two miles along its ridge, I had there to ascend a 
still higher pinnacle of it, from whence there is a most ex- 

" Since it has been deCcnnined that Zanesville is to be the seat at (he state 
gOTcnuneDt at least for a time, the town a making a rapid progress in population, 
buildings, and improvements generally. The country around it is also opening 
into fine farms on both sides of the river. Furnaces and forges are erecting in the 
neighbourhood, saw and grist mills, and s paper miU not far distant. — Ckaheb. 

"kAHEB. J 

1807-1809] Cuming s Tour to the West 


tensive view in every direction, of ridges beyond ridges 
covered with forests, to the most distant horizon ; but though 
grand and extensive, it is dreary and cheerless, excepting 
to a mind which anticipates the great change which the 
astonishingly rapid settlement of this country will cause in 
the face of nature m a few revolving years. Such a mind 
will direct the eye ideally to the sides of hills covered with 
the most luxuriant gifts of Ceres; to valleys divested of their 
trees, and instead of the sombre forest, strengthening the 
vision with their verdant herbage, while the rivers and brooks, 
no [205] longer concealed by woods, meander through them 
in every direction in silvered curves, resplendent with the 
rays of a glowing sun, darting through an unclouded atmos- 
phere; while the frequent comfortable and tasty farm 
house — the mills — the villages, and the towns marked 
by theu- smoke and distant spires, will cause the traveller 
to ask himself with astonishment, ' ' So short a time since, 
could this have been an uninhabited wilderness ? ' ' 

This lofty ridge continues with various elevations five 
miles and a half farther to Ensloe's tavern, and is well in- 
habited all the way, and well timbered, though the soil is 
rather tight. I here stopped to await the stage and break- 
fast, after which I rode on through a hilly country, rather 
thinly inhabited, five miles, and then three more on a flat, 
of the most wretched road imaginable, from the frequency of 
sloughs of stiff mud and clay. Travellers have ironically 
nicknamed this part of the road Will's creek plains. It is 
really almost impassable for even the strong stage wagons 
which are used here. 

After getting safely through the plains, and a mile further 
over a ridge, I came to Will's creek, which is a small muddy 
river with a very slow current. The banks are steep and 
the bottom muddy, so that it has to be crossed by a wooden 
bridge, which has become extremely dangerous, from some 

Karly Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

of the posts having been unplaced by floods, so that it is 
shelving, one side being a good deal higher than the other, 
and the balustrade is so much decayed that it would not 
support a man, much less a carriage, yet bad as it was, I 
had to pay a toll of an eighth of a dollar for my horse. 
Though the European drivers far exceed the American in 
dexterity and speed, on their fine roads, in this country 
they would be good for nothing, and would pronounce it 
impossible to get a carriage through roads, that the Ameri- 
can driver dashes through without a thought. — So much 
for habit. 

[206] On crossing the bridge, I was astonished to find 
myself in a town of cabins in the midst of a forest, which 
I had heard nothing of before. It is called Cambridge, 
and was laid out last year by Messrs. Gumbar and Beattie 
the proprietors, the first of whom resides in it. The lots 
sell at from thirty to thirty-five dollars each. There are now 
twelve cabms finished and finishing, each of which contains 
two or three families; about as many more and some good 
houses, are to be commenced immediately. The settlement 
being very sudden, there was not as yet house room, for the 
furniture, utensils, and goods of the settlers, those articles 
were therefore lying out promiscuously about the cabins. 
The settlers are chiefly from the island of Guernsey, near 
the coast of France, from whence eight families arrived only 
four months ago. 

I think Cambridge bids fair to become the capital of a 
county very soon.'" The lands in the neighbourhood are 
equal in richness of soil to any I have seen on this side of 
Paint creek bottoms near Chilicothe. 

Four miles from hence through a hilly country, brought 
me to Beymer's tavern, passing a drove of one hundred 

t of Guenuer Couat; when the latter 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


and thirty cows and oxen, which one Johnston was driving 
from the neighbourhood of Lexington in Kentucky, to 
Baltimore. The intercourse between the most distant 
parts of the United States is now so common, that imported 
merchandize is wagonned all the way to Chilicothe and the 
intermediate towns, from Philadelphia and Baltimore, 
nearly six hundred miles, and then retailed as cheaply as at 
the ports of entry. 

The drover with six assistants, two horsemen, two family 
wagons, and the stage wagon, put up at Beymer's for the 
night, so that the house which was only a double cabin, 
was well filled, though not so much crowded as might have 
been expected, as the cattle drivers made a fire and encamped 
without doors, convenient to where they had penned the 
cattle, and [207] one of the travelling families slept in their 
wagon. — This family consisted of a man and his wife, and a 
neighbour's daughter, who had removed to this state last 
year, from near Washington in Pennsylvania, and were now 
returning two hundred miles for some effects they had left 
behind. The other family, named Hutchinson, had emi- 
grated from Massachusetts to Franklinville in this state, 
four years ago. By clearing and cultivating a farm and 
keeping a store, a distillery, and a saw mill, and then selling 
their property at its increased value, they had in that short 
time acquired a sufficiency to think themselves independent, 
and were now returning, to settle in some place in the neigh- 
bourhood of Albany, in the state of New York, where the 
old man said, "he would be once more in the world." The 
systematick order which this family observed in travelling, 
and the comparative ease and comfort: they enjoyed in 
consequence, were circumstances noticed by me with much 
admiration. The family consisted of Hutchinson and his 
wife, two daughters from fifteen to seventeen years of age, 
a grown up son they called doctor, another son about ten, 


Rarly Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

and a young man who had had the charge of the mill, and 
who still continued with the family. They had a wagon, 
with four horses, and a saddle horse rode by one of the girls. 
On their stopping, the daughters began directly to prepare 
supper, as though they were at home, baked bread enough to 
serve them that night and next day, and then they sat down 
to sewing as composedly, as if they had been in their own 
house, and not on a journey; while the boys took care of the 
horses, and the old couple, though still active and healthy, 
sat at their ease, chatting and enjoying themselves. At all 
events ihe.y were reaping the benefit of having brought up 
their family in orderly and industrious habits, and the 
cheerfulness and hilarity which pervaded each individual, 
was a proof that they were all equally [208] sensible of the 
blessings which their own good conduct had put them in the 
enjoyment of. 

I had a good supper and bed, and found Beymer's double 
cabin a most exceUent house of accommodation. He is one 
of the proprietors of the stage wagons, and owns very con- 
siderable property in the state. 

Proceed on foot — Washington — Frankfort — Morristovm 
— Usual consequences of a militia muster — St. Clairs- 
ville — Another traveller — Indian Wheeling — Canton — 
River Ohio and Zane's island — Wheeling — Part with 
my fellow traveller. 

On Tuesday the i8th August, the stage being only to go 
fifteen miles, and the same distance next day, on account of 
the arrangement of the carriage of the mails, rather than 
travel such a snail's pace, I proceeded on foot, leaving my 
baggage to follow In the stage. The first five miles were • 
excellent road, over a long but not very high ridge of hills, j 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 2 3 1 

without a single house to Washington, or Beymerstown, as 
it is more generally called, from its being owned by the 
family of Beymer, two of whom keep taverns in it. — It has 
twelve cabins, four of which are taverns, and a blacksmith's 

Four and a half miles further have no inhabitants; the 
road is still good, but is led over several high, short and steep 
ridges, which generally run from north to south. Then 
passing a cabin and farm, in half a mile more I came to 
Frankfort or Smithstown, where I breakfasted. This is a 
small village or rather hamlet of eight or ten houses and 
cabins, some of which, as well as several in the neighbour- 
hood, are inhabited by families from Peeks-hill in New 
York, many of whom regret their having removed [209] from 
thence to this place, and with great reason, if one may 
judge from the appearance of the soil, which is all a red 
and yellow clay, very stiff, and apparently very unproduc- 

The country now became better settled, but still continued 
very hilly. I walked on, passing Wherry's tavern where the 
stage was to sleep at five miles, and stopping at Bradshaw's, 
where I rested about half an hour, and got some refreshment. 
This family is from the county Monaghan in Ireland. 
Their house is too small for an inn, but they have a good 
farm. Ten miles further brought me to Morristown, 
through a similar hilly country, with a succession of woods 
and farms, the latter at every mile, and a tavern at every 
two miles. 

On the road I met in straggling parties above fifty horse- 
men with rifles, who had been in Morristown at a militia 
muster, for the purpose of volunteering, or of being drafted 
to serve against Britain, in case of a war with that country, 
now much talked of. Most of them were above half seas 


Early Western Travels 

[\^oi. 4 

over, and they travelled with much noise — some singing, 
some swearing, some quarrelling, some laughing, according 
to their different natural dispositions, which are alwa)'s 
most manifest when in that unguarded situation. 

I found Morristown, where I arrived just before dark, all 
in a bustle from the same cause, many of the country people 
remaining to a late hour, drinking and fighting. 

My host Morrison who is a justice of the peace, and a 
major of the militia, had shut his house against them, but 
there was another tavern, where squire Morrison, while com- 
manding the peace, during an affray, came in for his share 
of the blows, and had his shirt torn. 

I got a very good supper — bathed my feet and went to 
bed in a room where a man and his wife, a young married 
couple, in another bed, acted over a [210] similar scene to 
what I had experienced at New Lancaster, keeping me 
awake chatting to me until a very late hour. 

After a short but sound sleep, I awoke at an early hour 
well refreshed, and pushed on eleven miles to St. Clairsville, 
through a fine, well improved, and well inhabited country, 
which was still hilly, but the ridges were neither so steep 
nor so high, as they are in general at this side of Chili- 

I stopped at Thompson's stage inn, where Mrs. Thomp- 
son who was very civil, prepared me a good breakfast. 

St. Clairsville, or Newelstown, as it is more frequently 
improperly called, is the capital of Belmont county, and is 
pleasantly situated on the point and top of the highest hill 
within sight, from whence twelve or fourteen miles of ridges 
and woods may be seen in every direction, some of them 
across the Ohio, which I was now again approaching. The 
town is only about four years old, and already contains eighty 
good houses, mcluding several stores and taverns. It has a 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 233 

court-house and gaol, and altogether it has the greatest 
appearance of wealth and business of any town between 
Chilicothe and itself. There are several Quakers, settled 
in the neighbourhood, who are a snug, wealthy and indus- 
trious people, and who enhance the value of real property 
in a wide extent around the focus of their settlements. 

Leaving St. Clairsville at eleven o'clock, I joined a foot- 
man named Musgrave, who was going to Morgantown in 
Virginia, to collect money to pay off some incumbrances on 
his lands below Limestone. He was a plain man, but an 
intelligent, expeditious and economical traveller, whose 
company shortened the road to Wheeling. It is a well set- 
tled country and a fine road, the first six miles from St. 
Clairsville. We then descended a long hill into the river 
bottom of Indian Wheeling, where we came to a good grist 
[211] and saw mill. Keeping down that fine little mill 
river five miles to its confluence with the Ohio, we forded it 
five times in that distance. 

On the banks of the Ohio is a new town called Canton, 
laid out by Mr. Zane last year, which has now thirteen 
houses. We here crossed a ferry of a quarter of a mile to 
Zane's island, which we walked across, upwards of half a 
mile, through a fertile, extensive, and well cultivated farm, 
the property of Mr. Zane, some of whose apples, pulled from 
the orchard in passing, were very refreshing to us, while we 
sat on the bank nearly an hour awaiting the ferry boat. 
At last the boat came, and we crossed the second ferry of 
another quarter of a mile to Wheeling. 

Here my fellow traveller took leave of me, purposing to 
go five or six miles further ere night, though it was now five 
o'clock, and we had already walked upwards of thirty miles 
since morning. 


Early Western Travels 

[\'oL 4 

Economy of my late fellow traveller — Proceed towards 
Washington — Fine view of Wheeling and the Ohio — 
Lose my road — Get right again by descending a preci- 
pice — A fine valley with several handsome seats and 
mills ^ Stop at Mr. Eoff's — A welt regulated family — 
Little Wheeling creek — An obliging traveller — Roney's 
point — Beautiful and picturesque country — Alexandria 
or Hardscramble — M'Crackan's — Good effects of tem- 
perance and cleanliness in travelling. 

I STOPPED at Knox's inn, where I asked for some beer, 
not daring to drink wine or spirits. They had none, so I 
walked out to a small house where I had observed on a 
sign Beer and Cakes. On entering [212] I found Mu^rave 
making a hearty meal on a cent roll and a pint of beer. He 
appeared as glad to see me again as if we had been old 
acquaintances, and had been long parted, and was easily 
prevailed on to make a second libation with me to the pros- 
perous termination of our joumies, in that humble, but 
wholesome and refreshing beverage. I then returned to 
Knox's, where I supped and slept. Next morning at dawn, 
I took a plunge in the river, and after breakfast, finding my 
strength invigorated and my spirits renovated by the cold 
bath, I continued my journey on foot by the most direct 
road to Washington, instead of awaiting for the stage accord- 
ing to my first intention, as it had to go ten miles out of 
the direct road to deliver the mail at Charlestown. 

I set out at half past nine o'clock, and soon gained the 
top of the hill immediately over Wheeling, from whence 
there is a handsome bird's eye view of that town, Zane's 
island in fine cultivation, the two ferries across the Ohio, 
and the village of Canton beyond ; while on the left the Ohio 
is seen winding among hills five or six miles below, and the 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


view is bounded in that direction, by one ridge rising beyond 
another to a great distance. Turning round on the narrow 
ridge over which the road leads, I had Wheeling creek 
directly under me at the foot of a precipice, it running in such 
a manner as to make the scite of the town with the hill 
behind, almost a peninsula, between it and the Ohio. 

I had proceeded about a mile, when meeting a traveller, 
of whom I inquired, I found I had taken a wrong road, in 
consequence of which I had to descend a steep precipice 
on my right, letting myself down with my hands from one 
tree to another, to the bottom. Here I got into the right 
road, which follows the meanders of the creek up a fine 
valley that has been setded about thirty years, and is now in a 
state of excellent cultivation. 

[213] At two miles from Wheeling I passed a very hand- 
some house, a fine farm, and a mill of a Mr. Woods on the 
left. Here I could not help being struck with the difference 
of appearance between this wooden house painted white, 
with green jalousie window shutters and red roof, and the 
stone and brick houses of Ohio and Kentucky, much in 
favour of the former, however better in reality the latter may 
be. A mile farther I passed Mr. Chaplin's fine merchant 
mill, and about a mile and a half beyond that, where the 
valley narrows, I observed on the left, some very remarkable 
large loose rocks, which seem to have fallen from a rocky 
cliff which impends above. 

Half a mile beyond this, I stopped at a Mr. Eoff's neat 
cottage and good farm, where every thing had an air of 
plenty and comfort. Four or five genteel looking young 
women were all engaged in sedentary domestick avocations, 
and an old lady served me with some milk and water which 
I had requested, after which I resumed my walk. 
, A mile up the side of the creek brought me to Mr. Shep- 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

herd's mill, and elegant house of cut stone.'" Here the 
creek forks and the road also, one of the forks called Big 
Wheeling coming from the S. E. and the right hand road 
leading along it to Morgantown; the left fork called Little 
Wheeling, which forms Mr. Shepherd's mill race, coming 
from the eastward, and my road towards Washington lead- 
ing along it, through a narrow valley with small farms, 
wherever a bottom or an easy declivity of the hills would 

I was here overtaken by a man on horseback, who very 
courteously insisted on my riding his horse, while he walked 
above a mile. He was a county Tyrone man in the north 
of Ireland, settled twelve years in America, the last six of 
which has been in this neighbourhood, where he cultivated 
a farm with good success. Indeed industry and sobriety is 
all [214] that is necessary in any part of the United States, to 
the westward of the mountains, to insure a comfortable 
independence in a very few years. 

My companion stopping at a house on the road, I again 
proceeded alone to M'Kinley's tavern, four miles from 
Shepherd's. I here left the creek on the left, crossing a 
smaller one which falls into it from the right, and I then 
ascended a steep and high hill, called Roney's point, from 
its being the pomt of a ridge, and first owned by one Roney. 
It was above half a mile to the top of hill, from whence a 
fine, thickly settled and well cultivated, but very hilly 
country broke on my view, beautifully variegated with 
cornfields in tassel — wheat and oat stubble — meadows — 
orchards — cottages — and stacks of grain and hay irmu- 
merable, with a small coppice of wood between every plan- 

"* This was the home of Moses Shepherd, sod of one of the most prominent 
-9 of this region. For a sketch of his cateer, see Harris's Jourwi, vol. iii of 

is series, p. 348, note 35. — Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 237 

Descending a little, a mile and a half further brought me 
to William Trusdale's cottage, where 1 rested, and refreshed 
with some buttermilk and water, and then went on through 
the same kind of country, four miles from Trusdale's, to 
the Virginia and Pennsylvania boundary line, half a mile 
beyond which I entered the village of Alexandria. A gust 
approaching fast I stopped about half an hour at John 
Woodbum's tavern. This village is named from a Mr. 
Alexander, the proprietor of the soil, and is nicknamed 
Hardscramble, either from the hilly roads by which one 
arrives at it, or from the difficulty experienced by the first, 
settlers to obtain a subsistence. It contains about a dozen 
houses and cabins, a meeting house, and three taverns, but 
it does not seem to thrive.""' 

After the gust I proceeded six miles through a very fine 
country, charmingly variegated, but hilly, to M'Crackan's 
tavern. The rain had rendered the road so slippery, that 
I could travel but slowly, so that it was almost dark when I 
arrived there. 

[215]! found another traveller in the house, who was 
going from the western part of Massachusetts near Albany, 
to the western part of Virginia, as an agent to dispose of 
some large tracts of land there, owned by some people in 
Albany. Having got some thickened milk for supper, and 
bathed my feet in cold water, I had a fine night's rest. 

I would not mention so often my mode of living and 
treating myself while on this journey, only to shew the good 
effects of temperance and cleanliness, which enabled me, 
though in so warm a season, to travel either on foot or on 
horseback, without fatigue or injury to my constitution. 

'** On the ori^ of the oame Alexandria, and the car))' history of the town, see 
Hanis's Jmtrnal, vol. iii of this series, p. 348, note 33. — Ed. 


Early fVestem Travels 

[Vol. 4 

Fine morning — Clement's tavem — Washington — Go on 
in the stage — Meet an acquaintance — Canonsburgh — 
Morganza — Colonel Plummer's — Coal Hill — Fright- 
ful road — Charming views ■— Monongahela ferry — Ar- 
rive at Pittsburgh. 

Thursday, twenty-first August, I walked on with the 
first dawn of a fine morning, nothing being wanting 
to render it delightful, except the carrol of the winged 
inhabitants of the woods, which throughout this whole 
country is very rare. I stopped to rest a few minutes at 
Clement's tavem, five miles on the road, where I found a 
number of young men and women up, and drest decently, 
and even genteelly, though so early; indeed many of them 
had the appearance of not having been in bed all night. 
On inquiry I learned that there had been a wedding here 
last night, which had occasioned such a concourse of young 
people. Several of the males joined [216] the landlord in 
civilly pressing me to take my morning dram of bitters vrith 
them, and they were not a little astonished at my excusing 
myself, and requesting in lieu, a little milk and water. 

Wishing to arrive in Washington in time to join the stage 
for Pittsburgh, I walked very fast, on a good road, through 
a pleasant but hilly country, and got to M'Cammont's 
tavem, as the family were rising from breakfast.'" The 
table was however soon replenished with plenty and variety, 
to which I did ample justice from the excellent effect on 
my appetite, of early rising, and a ten miles' walk. 

Having a little time before the stage would depart, I 
walked through the town, and was much pleased with it. 
Washington is surrounded by a fertile, well cultivated, and 

*" William McCammant's tavem, at 
opened in iSoi. An advcrtisenlent of e 
twenly-five cenlsj jurora and others attend 

Jle sign of the "CtiMS Keys," was fiist 
riy prices died "dinner and horsc^fced, 
ng court, two dollars per 

— Ed. I 

i8o7-'8o9] Cuming's Tour to the West 239 

well inhabited country, rather hilly, but the hills not very 
steep. The town occupies a hiU itself, and consists of one 
main street, intersected at right angles by four shorter ones, 
the whole containing one hundred and seventy-five dwelling 
houses, a good brick court house and a stone gaol adjoining; 
two meeting houses, one of brick for Presbyterians, and an 
old one of logs for Methodists; a neat masonick lodge of 
stone and lime, and a small market house. There are several 
stores and taverns, and on the whole it is a thriving town, 
and a pleasant residence for either trader, mechanick or 
private man, the inhabitants being a spirited and polished 
people, mostly descendants from the northern Irish. 

At noon I left Washington in the stage, having the pleas- 
ure of a fellow traveller in my old acquaintance Dearborn, 
who was returning to Pittsburgh after an excursion to Wash- 
ington for the purpose of taking some likenesses. His 
anecdotes of domestick and social occurrences at Pittsbut^h 
during my absence, beguiled the time pleasantly, and we 
were in Canonsburgh, without being sensible of the seven 
[217] miles between Washington and it. The road leads 
mostly along Chartier's creek, crossing it three times in that 
distance. We stopped at Westbay's excellent tavern, where 
is also the post office. They were making preparations for 
dinner, which (having breakfasted so late) we declined 
partaking of, and amused ourselves vrith a walk through 
the town. It is on the S. western declivity of a steep hill, 
having Chartier's creek at the bottom. It contains eighty 
eight houses, of different descriptions, exclusive of the college, 
which is a plain stone edifice, much out of repair, with a 
cupola belfry. There is also a small market house, but 
the town does not seem flourishing; indeed was it not for the 
college, it would probably soon go to decay, in favour of its 
more successful neighbour Washington.'" The most strik- 

*" For Uie hiator)' of Canonsburgh and the college here mentioned, see Harm's 
Journal, vol. iii of Ihis series, p. 347, note 31. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 


ing thing I saw here was my landlord's garden, which is both 
good and handsome, being laid out with taste, abounding in 
a variety of the best culinary vegetables, and having some 
very pleasant shady bowers, where the student, or man of 
leisure, sheltered from the noonday sun, and inhaling the 
fragrance of the surrounding aromatick plants, might 
luxuriantly roam into the realms of fancy. 

Two miles from Canonsburgh, we passed Mor^nza, the 
seat of general Morgan, on the left. It is a long and narrow 
frame building, with two ends lower than the body of the 
house, by way of wings — the whole ornamented with green 
jalousie window shutters. The situation, immediately on 
the road side, does not appear well chosen, especially as the 
general apparently had a choice of a variety of situations, 
any of which I should have supposed, would have merited 
a preference. One is more apt to be struck with any thing 
like false taste in any work which has been finished under 
the direction of a man of education and refinement, which in 
addition to [218] liberal hospitality, is general Morgan's 
character, as well as that of his amiable and accomplished 

"* Morganza was the home of Colonel George Morgan, a prominent character 
in Western land histoiT'. He was ori^aily a member of a large fiim of Fhiladel" 
phia Indian traders, and made journeys to Pittsburg as early as 1768. In the tieatr 
of Fort Stanwix of that year, his &im was one of those rFUnbursed for lasses by t, 
grant of Western lands, out of which grew the Indiana Company, for which Morgan 
during many yean acted as agent and secretary, vainly seeking confirmation of the 
grant by the Virginia legislature and later by Congrtss. At the oultreak of the 
Revolution, Morgan was made Indian agent for the Western Department, with 
headquarters at Pittsburg. At the close of the war, removal to Princeton, New 
Jersey, brought Morgan into contact with college life, his services as trustee being 
much appreciated. In 178S-S9, he was engaged in a scheme for settling a colony 
on SpBoish territory at New Madrid, but several trips to New Orleans on this 
buuness failed to effect a satisfactory arrangement. Morgan ne« turned his 
attention to the estate in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which had recently 
been bequeathed to him by his brother. Thither he removed in 1796, and at 
MorganM occurred the dinner at which Burr was charged with treasonable re- 
marks against the authority of the United States. The death of Morgan occurred 
ho.— Ed. 

T807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 241 

At Fosset's, three miles further, we changed an excellent 
set of grey horses, for as good a one of bays, owned by my 
friend M'Cullough of Pittsburgh. — For four miles from 
Fosset's to M'Cully's, the country is neither so fertile, nor so 
well cultivated as before, but it there improves again a little, 
and is ornamented at two miles further, by colonel Plum- 
mer's fanciful but handsome house and fine farm on the left. 
Rather exceeding three miles more brought us to the top of 
the Coal hill, the descent of which to the Monongahela, 
almost a mile, is so steep that two of the wheels of the stage 
wagon had to be locked, and I frequently wished myself 
out of it, but it was impossible to stop to get out, so I com- 
forted myself with the reflection that no unfortunate acci- 
dent had yet happened to the stages on this hill, which giving 
me courage, 1 was enabled to enjoy the views so inexpres- 
sibly fine, which are perpetually varying, as the road winds 
dovra the hill. 

From a bird's eye view on the top, the town of Pittsburgh, 
Grant's hill, and even Boyd's hiU so much higher than 
Grant's, appear as a plain, enclosed by the Monongahela 
from the S. E. directly under one, and the Allegheny meet- 
ing it at a point below the town, and both together forming 
the Ohio, which glides off majestically towards the N. W. — 
keeping the course of the Monongahela rather than that of 
the more rapid Allegheny, which flowing into it at a right 
angle from the N. E. is seen several miles upwards in that 
direction, with some beautiful islands about three miles 
above Pittsburgh. Descending the hill, the Monongahela 
gradually opens more on the right from its breadth assuming 
the appearance of a beautiful lake surrounded by irregular 
hills, with Mr. Beelen's finely situated country house, shew- 
ing to great advantage, at its upper end. 

[219] When near the bottom of the coal hill, a sudden 
precipice on the right, and a short turn of the road to the 


Early Western Travels 


left, brought back our thoughts home to ourselves, but the 
well trained horses seeming to know exactly where they 
should place their feet, soon removed us from the object 
of terror, and without stopping, trotted directly with the 
stage and us into the ferry flat, which was prepared to re- 
ceive us — after which, ten minutes sufficed to land us at 

Pittsburgh — Panorama round it 
At the conflux of the rivers Allegheny and Monongahela, 
the French when possessed of Canada, had the principal of 
a line of posts extending from that country round the back 
frontier of the British setdements, for the purposes of awing 
the aborigines and commanding their trade, and to prevent 
the spreading of the Anglo-American colonization beyond 
these limits. It was named Fort Du Quesne, after the 
Marquis Du Quesne, a govemour of Canada. It was always 
kept well garrisoned by European troops, and in time of war, 
was never without an army of auxiliary Indians encamped 
under its protection. This continual state of preparation cost 
the British much blood. In the year 1757, general Grant, 
with a regiment of eight hundred Scotch highlanders, 
arrived without discovery on a hill immediately command- 
ing the fort, since named after him Grant's hill, where think- 
ing himself secure of conquest, he alarmed the enemy by 
beating the reveille at sunrise. The garrison, without 
awaiting [220] to be attacked in the fort, which would not 
have been tenable, and reinforced by a strong bodyof Indians, 
stole out under the high river banks, and divided itself into 
two parties, one of which took the route upwards of the 
Monongahela, and the other that of the Allegheny, until 
they flanked Grant's little army, when profiting by the 
woods, with which the hill and surrounding country were 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 243 

then covered, they suddenly attacked it in flanks and rear, 
cut to pieces, tomahawked and scalped the greater number, 
while the rest with the general saved their lives by becoming 
prisoners to the French, on whose mercy they threw them- 

The following year 1758, was productive of greater 
slaughter to the British, by the defeat of general Braddock's 
army of five thousand men, being surprised by the French 
and Indians in great force on the banks of the Monongahela, 
when within eight miles of Fort Du Quesne, then a wilder- 
ness, but now well inhabited and ornamented on the very 
spot by the handsome brick house and fine farm of judge 
Wallace.'" The general and three fourths of the army, 
were shot down from behind trees, while in the parade of 
European tacticks, presenting four bold open fronts to the 
enemy, being formed in a hollow square. The few who 
escaped, did so under the protection of Col. since Gen. 
Washington's provincial militia, who by opposing a similar 
warfare against the savage enemy, covered the retreat of the 
few remaining regulars. 

Some time afterwards in the same year, the fort capitulated 
to general Forbes, and the river Allegheny having made 
some encroachment on it by undermining its banks, a new 
and more extensive fortification of a square with four bas- 

*** Cuming's hiBtorical narratives are not as accurate as his ebservntions. This 
defeat of Grant occurred in 1 758, and but a third of the troops engaged were killed 
and captured — 540 out of S13 rctumiog to Bouquet's camp at Loyalhanna. See 
Farkman, Uonlcaim and Wolfe (Boston, 1885), ii, pp. 150-154. — Ed. 

'" General Braddock's defeat oeciured July 9, 1755; the site of the ballle-ficld 
is now covered by the manufacturing town of Broddock, Pennsylvama. 

Judge George Wallace, whose farm comprised the field of battle when Cuming 
wrote, was an eminent citizen of Allegheny County. First appointed presiding 
judge of Westmoreland {1784), then of Allegheny County (1788), he acted as 
magistrate until his death (1814). Wallace had not studied law, but held his posi- 
tion on account of being a large landholder; his fairness and moderalion, especially 
during the Whiskey RcbelUon, proving of great service to the settlements. — Ed. 

244 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

tions was erected by general Stanwix just above, and named 
Fort Pitt, in honour of the then prime minister of England. — 
It cost government ;^6o,ooo sterling. A garrison [221] was 
kept here for several years after the peace of 1763, but it 
was withdrawn on the commencement of the disputes 
between Britain and America, and the inhabitants of the sur- 
rounding settlement, which had not yet taken the form of a 
town, occasionally forted themselves for defence agauist the 
Indians, and so late as the year 1781, there were only a few 
small houses and cabins on the banks of the two rivers, 
under protection of the fort, a noble row of brick and stone 
houses built by the French Indian traders on the banks of 
the Allegheny, having been undermined and swept away 
by that river since 1766, in the memory of some of the pres- 
ent inhabitants of Pittsburgh.'" After 1781, Pittsburgh 
began to improve slowly, and in 1784 a gazette'" was estab- 
lished in it."' In 1783 Fort Pitt was repaired by general 
Irwin, but was afterwards neglected, and a stoccado fort 
called Fort Fayette, was erected on the bank of the Alle- 
gheny, half a mile above Fort Pitt.'" Fort Fayette is now 

»* Brackeniidge's Gazette Publications. — Ckamei. 

"' Published by Mr. John ScuU, the foA press established west of the Alle- 
gheny mountains. — Chamek. 

'" The publication of the Pittsburg GateOe was begun July jg, 1786, and con- 
tinued for several yean under great difficulties. Sometinies the consignment of paper 
from Philadelphia falling to arrive, it was printed on cartridge pajjef obtained from 
the coromandanl of the fori. John Scull remained the owner and proprietor until 
iSiB, when he retired to Westmoreland County where he died ten yeara later. 
The publication of the Gatetu has been continuous to the present day, being now 
known as the Commercial Gatetle. — El>. 

'*' For note on Fort Fayette, see Michaui's TraveU, vol. iii of this series, p. 33 

General WiUiam Irvine was a Scotch-Irish Revolutionary officer who had been 
captured on the Canadian expedition (1776} and not exchanged until two years 
later. Commissioned brigadier.genenil, be was sent by Washington, at a critical 
juncture, to take command at Fort Pitt, and there remained imtil peace was signed 
(1783). Thereupon he retired to Carlisle, and after distinguished public services 
died in 1804. Pennsylvania granted him a tract of land near Erie in return for his 

; m return lor his j 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 245 

used as a barrack and place of deposit of stores, but is useless 
for either offence or defence. The surrounding grounds 
were handsomely laid out, planted, and ornamented by 
general Wilkinson"" some years ago, and considering the 
smallness of the field he had to work on, shew much taste, 
and are an ornament to the eastern and principal approach 
to the town, in which situation the fort stands. 

The town or borough, as it now is, has increased in a very 
rapid degree both in size and consequence since the last 
ten years. The plan, by its being designed to suit both 
rivers, is rather irregular, Penn and Liberty streets which 
are very fine streets, running parallel to the Allegheny, 
while the principal [222] part of the town is parallel and at 
right angles with the Monongahela. 
VTn seventeen streets and four lanes or alleys in March 
1808, were two hundred and thirty-six brick houses, of 
which forty-seven were built in the last twelve months, and 
three hundred and sixty-one wooden ones, seventy of which 
were added last year. There are fifty stores generally well 
assorted and supplied, and which divide the retail business 
of the town and adjacent country in tolerably good propor- 

"* The caieb' of GcDcral James Wilkinson is as remarkable as his charairter 
is despicable. His adroitness and poirer of inspiring confidence nuuntained him 
in his intrigues, and gave him the opportuniiy of playing a promtncat part in early 
Westeni affairs. His share in the ReTOlution was indicative of the man, he being 
concerned in the Conway Cabal and other quesdonable movements. At the close 
of the WW, he migrated lo Kentucky and engaged in mercantile business. His 
commercial connection with New Orleans furnished the opportunity for his intrigue 
with the Spaniards, wbcise paid agent he became, for altemptii^ to dismember 
the union. Reluming to the army, he acted as second in command under Wajne. 
Upon the latter's death, he became commander-in-chief, and after 1805 was ap- 
pointed governor of Louisana. In tiiis position he first embarked upon, and then 
betrayed the schemes of Aaron Burr. Not able entirely to clear himself of suspi- 
cion, Wilkinson was removed Erom his Western position at the outbreak of the War 
of i8ii-T5;and after a futile and mismanaged campaign against Montreal demanded 
an investigation by court-martial. This being inefficiently conducted, Wilkuuon 
was acquitted, but he soon (iSrj) retired to extensive estates which be had acquired 
near tlie City of Mexico, where he died ten jears later. — Eo. 


Earfy Wtsum Trmxli 


tioiu Some however hsve latbcr a wpeiian^ at nKooi, 
the owner of one of iridch, a aiaii of venoy, asafcd Be 
dist he rac eiwd ki ready wauej, one muket daj with 
■aocher, ooe bmidred and fifty dcdlars, and that be bad once 
taken one hundred and nf^aj besides the credit hosmcss. 
Either as a trading or a manufactnrmg town, I think litts- 
bofi^ for aitnation, is not caccePed in the United States, and 
that it bids bir tp become the emporimn of the centre of the 
federal miion, QTboe are 24 taverns, four or five tA which 
are oceOent ones, and the rest of every grade. An account 
of the manufactnries and tradesmen iras taken in tiie fall 
of 1807, the result of which was — A cotton manufactury, 
baviog a mule of i3othreads,aspini]ing jenny of 40 threads, 
4k)oauandawo(rf carding machine under the same roof; a 
^BMWork for green ^ass on the opposile side of the Mooon- 
gabela, and another just erected for white glass oa the town 
»de <A the same river; two breweries, where are made excel- 
lent beer and porter, equal to any in the United States; an air 
fumace, where all sorts of hollow iron utensils are cast; 
four nail facturies, at one of which one hundred tons of cut 
and hammered nails are made annu al! >i seven coppersmiths, 
tinplate workers and japanners; one wire wearing and riddle 
factury; one brass foundery; six saddlers and h£Lmess-mak- 
ers; two gun-smiths; two tobacconists; one bell-maker; three 
tallow-chandlers; [223] one brush maker; one tnmk-maker; 
five coopers; thirteen weavers; ten blue-dyers; one comb- 
maker; seven cabinet-makers; one turner in brass, ivory and 
wood; six bakers; eight butchers; two barbers; six hatters; 
two potteries of earthen ware; eight straw bonnet- makers; 
four plane-makers; six milliners; twelve mantua-makers; one 
stocking weaver ; two book- binders ; four house and sign paint- 
ers; two iHJrtrait painters; one mattress- maker; three wheel- 
wrights; five watch and clock-makers and silversmiths; five 
bricklayers, five plasterers; three stonecutters; eight boat, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the IVest 


barge and ship builders; one pump-maker; one looking-glass 
plater and maker; one lock-maker; seven tanners; two rope- 
makers; one spinning wheel maker; seventeen blacksmiths; 
one machinist and whitesmith; one cutler and tool-maker; 
thirty-two house carpenters and joiners; twenty-one boot 
and shoemakers; five Windsor chair-makers; thirteen tailors; 
one breeches- maker and skin-dresser; twelve school-masters; 
four schoolmistresses; four printing offices; six brick-yards; 
three stone masons; two book-stores; four lumber yards; one 
maker of machinery for cotton and woolen manufacluries; 
one factury for clay smoking-pipes; and one copper-plate 
printing press. 

The tradesmen above mentioned are all master-workmen, 
who employ more or less assistants in proportion to their 

Besides the fine situation o(^ittsburgfflfor manufacturies, 
another circumstance encourages much the settlement of 
industrious tradesmen in it, which is the(cheap, plentiful 
and various market. There are two market days weekly, 
and the common prices of necessaries are, — good beef, from 
2J to 4 cents per lb. pork 3I, mutton 4, veal 3) venison 3 to 
4, bacon 6 to 10, butter :• t« 18, cheese 8 to 12, hogs lard 8, 
[224] fowls each 10 to :2, ducks 25, geese 33 to 37, turkies 
40 to 7s/flour $1 75 to 2 50 per cwt. or from 3 50 to 4 50 per 
barrel, com 33j^potatoes 40, turnips 18, Indian meal 40 
cents per bushdjonions a dollar, white beans a dollar, dried 
apples and peaches a dollar, and green 40 cents per bushel, 
eggs 10 to 18 cents per dozen, fresh fish 3 to 6 cents per lb. 
maple sugar, very good, made in the country, lo to 12 cents 
a pound, whiskey 30 to 40 cents per gallon, peach brandy 75 
to 80, beer 5 to 7 dollars a barrel, and cider 3 to 4, 700 
country linen 40 cents, and tow cloth 33 cents per yard ;'" 
but salt comes high, being generally 2J dollars per bushel, 

'" Ohio and Mississippi Navigator — sixth edition. — Ckaiies. 


Early Western Travels 


which is occasioned by its being supplied from the Ononda- 
go salt works, in the upper part of the state of New York, 
from whence it is brought by water with a few portages, 
through part of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and down 
French creek and the Allegheny to Pittsburgh, where it is a 
great article of trade, giving employment to several keel boats 
on the river. 

The situation of Pittsburgh is unrivalled with respect 
to water communication, with a great extent and variety 
of country; and would also be so in beauty was it not hemmed 
in too closely by high and steep hills. It may notwith- 
standing be called a beautiful situation, as there is a variety 
in those very hills, which all differ in appearance from each 
other, and admit between them fine vistas up the Allegheny 
and Monongahela, and down the Ohio, which river is 
formed by the confluence of the other two, and which after 
flowing eleven hundred miles through all its sinuosities, is 
itself lost in the Mississippi, at a point about W. S. W. from 
Pittsburgh, from whence eleven hundred miles more carry 
that chief of Atlantick rivers (whether with regard to unim- 
peded navigation, or the immense body of water discharged 
through it) into the ocean below New Orleans, in [225] about 
a south direction from its confluence with the Ohio. 

Standing on the point which was the scite of the old 
French Fort Du Quesne, about the middle of the last cen- 
ttny, and of which there is now no vestige, and looking up 
the Allegheny to the northward, a chain of hills, with a nar- 
row bottom partially cultivated between the hills and the 
river, bound the view on the left, while two beautiful little 
islands, the uppermost one cultivated, and owned by a Mr. 
Wainwright from England, terminate the water prospect 
in front. 

Turning gradually to the right, the eye looks over the dry 
ditch and old ramparts of the former English Fort Pitt, , 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 249 

which succeeded Fort Du Quesne, beyond which are a few 
straggling apple and pear trees, being all that remains of the 
king's and artillery gardens, planted and cultivated by the 
first British garrison, and now laid out in streets and town 
lots. Looking onward up the bank of the river, which is 
about thirty feet above the surface, when the water is lowest, 
houses, trees, and cultivated fields, are seen for three miles 
to Mr. Davis's large, and handsomely situated house, about 
half a mile beyond the race course, and the same distance 
above Wainwright's island. Hills covered with wood, rising 
amphitheatre-like behind Davis's, terminate the view that 

Turning a little more to the right, the eye follows the 
Quarry hill, which is a ridge of from two hundred and 
fifty to three hundred feet perpendicular height, crowned 
with lofty forest trees, under which is a quarry of fine 
building stone, about half a mile long, with a good wagon 
road along its whole length, from every part of which are 
most charming views of the town and rivers, the cultivated 
sides of the hill below, and the rich and luxuriant plain of a 
quarter of a mile wide between the foot of the hill and the 
Allegheny, [226] with the post and stage road from Phila- 
delphia and the eastern states running through the middle of 
it two miles from Hill's tavern to the town, which in its 
most compact part, with the belfry of the court-house, the 
Episcopal brick octagonal church, a handsome Presbyterian 
brick meeting house, and the roofs of the dwelling houses 
intermixed with lombardy poplars and weeping willows, 
the eye still approaching itself, is the next object. 

A little to the right of the last line of view. Grant's hill, 
with its sloping sides and regular ascent to about one hundred 
feet perpendicular height, covered with dehghtful short green 
herbage, seems to obtrude itself into the town, affording to 
the citizens a charming mall or promenade both for exer- 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

cise and air. It lies within the bounds of the borough; but 
it is to be hoped that general O'Hara, who is the proprietor, 
will with true patriotism, reserve it for its present use, and 
not permit one of the greatest ornaments of Pittsburgh to 
be destroyed, by having it cut down and levelled for building 
lots. Its belonging to a man of such extensive property is a 
fortunate circumstance for the inhabitants, as that may pre- 
vent its being changed from pleasure to profit, to which it 
might be more liable was it owned by some needy person. 
Was the genertd to fence it in, terrace it, which could be 
done at a small expense, ornament it with clumps of ever- 
greens and flowering shrubs, and erect a few banqueting 
houses in the forms of small temples according to the differ- 
ent orders of architecture, it would be one of the most beau- 
tiful spots, which not only America but perhaps any town 
in the universe could boast of. 

Grant's hill is united to the Quarry hill, by a plain at 
first flat, then rising gradually, over the middle of which on a 
very commanding situation, is seen the handsome cottage 
of Mr. Tannehill, a continental officer during the revolu- 
tionary war, who now enjoys [227] the evening of life in the 
shade of the finest fruit trees of this climate, of his own 
planting, for which rational and delightful employment as 
well as horticulture in general, he has a good taste.'*' 

Still continuing to turn to the right, the next prominent 
object is the house of Mr. James Ross, an eminent lawyer, 
which he purchased from a Mons. Marie, a Frenchman, 

'" WbaC adds to the bea.u(7 of Mr. Ta.nnehill's seat is, a handsome grove of 
about two acres of young black oaks, northwest of his dwelling, through the middle 
of which runs a long frame bowery, on whose end fronting the road, is seen thia 
raolto, " 1808, Dtdicated to Virtue, Liberty aifd Indipendtnce." Here a portion of 
the dtizens meet on each 4th of July, to hail with joyful hearts the day that gave 
Wrth (o the liberties and happiness of their country. On the opposite side of the 
road lo the bowery, is a spring issuing from the side of the hill, whose water trickles 
down a rich clover patch, through which is a deep hollow with several small 
cades, overhung with the willow, and fruit trees of various kinds. — Ckaiczb. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 251 

who had taken great pains to cultivate a good garden, which 
Mr. Ross does not neglect, and in which, on the top of an 
ancient Indian tumulus or barrow, is a handsome octangular 
summer house of lattice work, painted white, which forms a 
conspicuous and pleasing object. 

From Mr. Ross's, which is immediately behind the top 
of Grant's hill, there is a gradual slope to a small but ele- 
vated plain, called Scotch or Scots hill, from its being the 
residence of several families from the northern Hebrides. 
It is improperly called a hill as it is no higher than the general 
level of the town, which is about forty feet above the low 
water mark of the Monongahela, to the bank of which 
river this plain extends, from the foot of the hill below Mr. 
Ross's house. 

A valley commencing at the upper extremity of this plain, 
divides Grant's and Grove hills (the latter the seat of Mr. 
Tannehill before mentioned) from Boyd's hill, which equally 
steep and twice as high as Grant's, is the most striking 
feature in the view, [228] still looking to the right over the 
principal part of the town. This valley is watered by a 
little rivulet called Suke's'" run, which flows past a pleasant 
retired situation, said to have been formerly inhabited by one 
Anthony Thompson, long before Pittsburgh was a town. 
A few indigenous plum trees are the only vestiges of its 
former occupancy. The rivulet passes Mr. Watson's large 
brick house, supplies a tanyard owned by general O'Hara, 
then crossing the Monongahela road, falls into that river 
at the shipyards, at a low inlet between Scots hill plain and 
Boyd's hill, where several vessels have been built, some as 
large as four hundred tons. The coal which supplies Pitts- 
burgh with fuel, is brought on wagons from a distance not 

'" Thii rivulet derives its appellation from the drcumstance of a woman named 
Susan, nicknamed Suke, having eithet hung hetself in a thicket of plum trees here, 
or drowned heraelf in the run, about thirty-five yean ago. — Cbauek. 


Early Western Travels 



exceeding two miles, and is delivered in the town at six 
cents a bushel. 

Boyd's hill was formerly named Ayre's hill, from a 
British engineer of that name who wished to have it for- 
tified, but it changed its appellation about twenty years 
ago in consequence of one Boyd, a printer, hanging himself 
there on a tree. It was first cleared and cultivated by a 
Highland regiment, which built huts on it, no remains of 
which now exist. 

The view from Boyd's hill exclusive of the Allegheny, 
which is veiled by Grant's and the Quarry hills, is as fine 
as that from the Quarry hill exclusive of the Monongahela, 
shut out from it by Boyd's, and is more_ uninterrupted down 
the Ohio to Robinson's point and Bninot's island, almost 
three mOes. 

The Monongahela is then the next object to the right of 
Boyd's hill. It is four hundred and fifty yards wide, and 
is seen to the N. E. in a vista of about two miles, when it 
takes a sudden bend to the eastward, and disappears behind 
the hills, at the extremity [229] of this vista, at the Two mile 
run, Mr. Anthony Beelen, a respectable merchant, has a 
neat ornamented cottage, opposite the bend, on the left 
bank, which commands a view of the reach above, as well 
as of that below to the town. The intermediate bank be- 
tween Mr. Beelen's country seat and Pittsburgh, has a pleas- 
ant road along it, which is one of the principal avenues to 
the town, and which is surmounted by the ridge, of which 
Boyd's hill is the termination, whose round regular bluff 
verges into a bare rock, crowned with trees, impending 
romantically over the road in the whole distance from Two 
mile run. 

Still turning to the right the opposite bank of the Monon- 
gahela presents to the eye a fine level bottom well cultivated 
and settled, with a ridge of hills half a mile behind it, which 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 253 

gradually approach the river untU immediately opposite 
the town, where rising abruptly from the water's edge 
to the height of about five hundred feet perpendicular, they 
take the name of the Coal hill, from that fuel being formerly 
dug out of it for the use of the town, before pits were opened 
more convenient on this side of the river. It still supplies 
the coal for general O'Hara's glass-works, which, with the 
houses of the overseer and workmen, forms a village at 
the foot of the hill on the river bank, immediately oppo- 
site the point where the spectator stands, who has now gone 
round rather more than half a circle since his first view up 
the Allegheny. Window glass of a good quality and quart 
bottles, are made at this manufactury, which with a rival 
one at New Geneva, about sixty miles up the Monongahela, 
supplies all the western country. 

The face of the Coal hill is very steep, and on the summit, 
major Kirkpatrick"* has a farm house and bam, which 
seem to hang immediately over Pittsburgh, to a traveller 
approaching from the north [230] eastern avenues. The 
bird's eye view from thence of the town and rivers is very 
striking. Every street, lane, alley, house and object, how- 
ever minute (if visible to the eye) being delineated under the 
spectator, as a plan on paper, the inequalities of surface not 
being discernible, and even Grant's hill being flattened to 
a plain on the optick sense. 

Continuing to turn to the right from our original centre, 
the point, we see the Ohio for about two miles, with Elliot's 
mills on Saw mill run below Coal hill on the left, an amphi- 
theatre of lower hills about Chartier creek and M'Kee's 
farm to Brunot's island in front, and Robinson's point 

"* Major Abraham Kirkpatrick, a Maiylander by birth and a Rcvolulionaiy 
officer, waj one of the earliest settlers of Pittsburg. A brother-in-law of John 
Neville, he aided the latter in his difficultiea with the insurgents in the Whiske; 
Rebellion. Nevertheless, he was popular in his vidnity, and left a Dumber o( 

descendants who became useful dtijwn*. — Ed. 

25 + 

Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

and Smoky island at the mouth of the Allegheny on the 

The eye still keeping its circuit, looks over a fine level 
of three thousand acres, once intended as the scite of a 
town to be called Allegheny, to be the capital of the county, 
but the situation of Pittsburgh being very properly judged 
more convenient, it has eventually become the seat of justice 
of the county, and the most flourishing inland town in the 
United States. A chain of irregular hills, not so steep, but 
nearly as high as Coal hill, bounds this level, and com- 
pletes the Panorama. 

The plan of Pittsburgh by being designed to suit both the 
rivers, is in consequence irregular. The ground plot is a 
triangle. Some of the streets run parallel to each river, 
imtil they meet at the point, and they again are intersected 
by others at right angles, meeting at acute angles in the 
centre. At one of those acute angles at a comer of Wood 
street, is the Episcopal church, an octagonal building of 
brick not yet finished, and nearly opposite on the other 
side of the same street is a Presbyterian meeting-house of 
brick also, well built, neat, and roomy. In a remote street 
near Grant's hill, is a small old framed Presbyterian meet- 
ing-house, used by a sect a little differing from the other, 
and the German Lutherans [231] have a small house of 
worship near it — at the N. E. end of the town is a very 
good brick meeting-house for a large congregation of Cove- 
nanters — and without the town, near Mr. Woods's hand- 
some seat, a handsome brick church is building for a society 
of Roman Catholicks. The court-house in the centre of 
the town is the only publick building which remains to be 

It is well built of brick, is spacious, and convenient for 
judiciary purposes, and serves for a place of worship for 
the Episcopal society until their own church is finished, as 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


also occasionally for itinerant preachers to display their 
oratory — and the jury room up stairs is sometimes con- 
verted into a very good temporary theatre, where private 
theatricals lire practised in the winter by the young gentle- 
men of the town. 

A respectable society of Methodists meet at each others 
houses, not having yet any house for that express purpose. 

From the number of religious houses and sects, it may be 
presumed that the sabbath is decently observed in Pitts- 
burgh, and that really appears to be the case in a remark- 
able degree, considering it is so much of a manufacturing 
town, so recently become such, and inhabited by such a 
variety of people. 

Amusements are also a good deal attended to, particu- 
larly concerts and balls in the winters, and there are annual 
horse races at a course about three miles from town, near 
the Allegheny beyond Hill's tavern."* 

On the whole let a person be of what disposition he will, 
Pittsburgh will afford him scope for the exercise of it. 
[232] Notes made in descending the rivers Ohio and 

Mississippi in the spring 0} 1808 — from MaysvUle. 

Newport — Cincinnati — Port William - 


Louisville and the falls. 

May 7th, at 8 P. M. departed from Maysville — 8th, 
the Ohio is safe and clear of obstructions from Maysville 
to the Little Miami river, fifty-six miles. 

Little Miami is a beautiful river, sixty or seventy yards 
wide, falling into the Ohio on the right from the northward. 

"• We are sony to have it to acknowledge that kerse racing, contrary to an 
express law of the state, has been more or less practised witbm the vidoity of this 
place a few years back, but are pleased with the prospect oE having it totally obol- 
ished by the influence of its evident impropriety, danger, and wickednesSj operating 
on the minds of the more thoughtful and judicious. — Ckameb. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

The village of Columbia just below, is beautifully situated 
on an extensive bottom. Seven miles lower we passed on 
the left the village of Newport, containing a large brick 
arsenal and magazine, the property of the general govern- 
ment. It is just above the conflux of Licking river, which 
is about one hundred yards wide. The banks of the Ohio 
display a great sameness so far, they having a gentle slope, 
and rich soil, thickly wooded and thinly inhabited. 

We stopped at Cincinnati which is delightfully situated 
just opposite the mouth of Licking river.'" — This town 
occupies more ground, and seems to contain nearly as many 
houses as Lexington. It is on a double bank like Steuben- 
ville, and the streets are in right lines, intersecting at right 
angles. The houses are many of them of brick, and they are 
all in general well built, well painted, and have that air of 
neatness which is so conspicuous in Connecticut and Jersey, 
from which latter state, this part of the state of Ohio is 

■"The Licking was eiplored by Harrod's party in 1774, and five yean later 
Bowman's unfortunate expedition rendezvoused at its mouth. The next year 
(1780) George Rogers Clark in his raid against the Chillicothe Indians built two 
blockhouses on the ^te of Cincinnati; and again in 1781 started from hence against 
the Miamis. In 17S5-S6, the Federal Government built Fort Finney above the 
mouth of the Great Miami, where Clark held a treaty in the latter year. After 
the erection of the Northwest Territoiy. and the opening of the district to land- 
holders, John Cleves Symmes bought a millioD acres between (he two Miami 
rivers, and towns were soon formed. Matthias Denman (1788) purchased of 
Symmes for two hundred dollars a square mile opposite the mouth of the Licking, 
and forming a partnership with Robert Patterson of Lexington, and John Filson, a 
Kentucky schoolmaster, founded a town which the latter entitled Losantiville, 
"town opposite the mouth of the Licking." This fantastic compound was re- 
tained until Governor St. Clair ( 1 790) changed the name to Cindnoati in honor of 
tbe military sodcty. Fort Washington, government post, built in 1790, protected 
the infant settlement. 

Meanwhile Symmes had platted a (own on the Great Miami, which he called 
North Bend, and desired to have established as the capital of the new Northwest 
Territory. Columlna Was also laid out at the mouth of the Little Miami, and the 
three towns contended for leadership until Cincinnati was made capital of the 
Territory in 1800, and began to flourish apace. The garrison was removed from 
Fort Washington to Newport barracks in 1804. The residence of Colonel Suydann 
has given its name to SuydamsviUe, a western suburb of Cincinnati.— 

nnati. — Ed. fl 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the IVest 257 

priDcipally settled. Some of the new brick houses [233] are 
of three stories with flat roofs, and there is one of four stories 
now building Mr. Jacob Burnet, an eminent lawyer, has a 
handsome brick house beautifully situated just outside the 
west end of the town.'*' Cincinnati, then named Fort 
Washington, was one of the first military posts occupied by 
the Americans in the western country, but I observed no 
remains of the old fort. It is now the capital of Hamilton 
county, and is the largest town in the state. 

After remaining at Cincinnati from three o'clock until 
half past five, we then proceeded, passing Col. Suydam's 
very handsome stone house with piazzas and balconies, in 
the French West India style, three or four miles below. 

May 9th, having passed the Big Miami, the boimdary 
between Ohio and the territory of Indiana in the night, at 
seven in the morning we were abreast of Big Bone Lick creek, 
so called from a skeleton of the mammoth being found 
here.'" This is fifty-nine miles below Cincinnati. The 
tiresome sameness of the banks continued until noon when 
being abreast of one Reamy's, thirty-two miles further, the 
settlements became thicker on the Kentucky side, and the 
river assumed a more cheerful appearance. I observed 
some farms on the opposite shore of Indiana, at one of which 
I was informed was a vineyard. 

At three P. M. we stopped at Port William, delightfully 
situated just above the embouchure of Kentucky river, 

"' Jacob Bumet, bom in New Jersey in 1770, was of Scotch descent. When a 
young man of twenty-^i he came to the Northwest Territory to practice law, and 
settled at CincinDBti. His public services were as member of the territoiiai council 
(179S), as supreme judge of the State, and as United States Senator. He was the 
author of Nous on the Early SeUlemmU of the Northviestem Ttrriiory {Cincinnati, 
1847), a valuable pioneer btslory. Burnet's home was the scene of noteworthy 
hospitality, all pronuaeDt visiton to the region being there entertained. A portion 
of his estate is now a public park for Cincinnati, known as Bumel Woods. — Ed. 

"' For note on Big Bone Lick, see Crogban's JounaU, vol. i of this scries, 
p. 13s, note 104.— Ed. 


Early Weitem Travels 

[\'ol. 4 

which is from eighty to a hundred yards wide. This is the 
capital of Gallatin county, and contains twenty-one houses, 
many of which are of brick, but all rather in a state of de- 
cay. *•* The lands appear good, but probably the country 
is not in a sufficient state of improvement to admit of a town 
here yet. Frankfort the capital of the state, is on the Ken- 
tucky, only sixty mUes above Port William. 

[234] At four we gave our boats to the stream, and after 
floating all night seventy-eight miles, past some islands and 
some thinly scattering settlements, we rowed into Bear 
Grass creek, which forms a commodious little harbour with- 
out current for Louisville, May loth, at 9 A. M. 

Louisville is most delightfully situated on an elevated 
plain to which the ascent from the creek and river is gradual, 
being just slop>e enough to admit of hanging gardens with 
terraces, which doctor Gault at the upper, and two Messrs. 
Buttets at the lower end of the town have availed themselves 
of, in laying out their gardens very handsomely and with 
taste. From the latter, the view both up and down the 
river is truly delightful. Looking upwards, a reach of five 
or six miles presents itself, and turning the eye to the left, 
JeEfersonville, a neat village of thirty houses, in Indiana, 
about a mile distant, is next seen. The eye still turning a 
little more to the left, next rests upon a high point where 
general Clark first encamped his little army, about thirty 
years ago, when he descended the river to make a campaign 
against the Indians, at which time Louisville, and almost 
the whole of Kentucky was a wilderness covered with forests. 
The rapids or falls (as they are called) of the Ohio, are the 
next objects which strike the observer. They are formed by 
a range of rocks and low islands, which extend across the 

■*• Port William is now called CarTolltoo, &nd is the ojuaty-seat of Csiroll 
Count)', erected out of the limits of Gallatin in 1838.— Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 259 

river, the deepest channel through which is near the Indiana 
shore, and has only six feet water, and that even very nar- 
row when the river is low. The fall here has been proved 
by a level to be twenty-two inches and a half in two miles, 
from Bear Grass creek to Shipping Port, which causes a 
velocity of current of about twelve miles an hour in the 
channel. Clarksville, a new village in Indiana at the lower 
end of the rapids, is next seen, beyond which Silver creek 
hills, a moderately high and even chain, bound the view 
five or six miles distant."' Continuing [235] to turn to the 
left. Rock island, and the same chain of hills appearing over 
it, finish two thirds of a very fine panorama. The town and 
surrounding forests form the other third. 
LLouisville consists of one principal and very handsome 
street, about half a mile long, tolerably compactly built, 
and the houses generally superiour to any I have seen in the 
western country with the exception of Lexington. Most 
are of handsome brick, and some are three stories) vrith a 
parapet wall on the top in the modem European taste, 
which in front gives them the appearance of having flat 

I had thought Cincinnati one of the most beautiful towns 
I had seen in America, but Louisville, which is almost as 
large, equals it in beauty, and in the opinion of many excels 
it. It was considered as unhealthy which impeded its 
progress, until three or four years ago, when probably in 

"* On the ear); history of LouUvUle, sec Croghan's JoumitU, vol. i of this series, 
p. 136, nole 106. 

Clarksville was established (1783) on the grant ot lands given by the Virpnl* 
legislature to the soldiers who hod served in Claik's campaign in the Illinois. 
Much was expected of this new town opposite the Falls of Ohio; but it never 6our- 
ished, and gradually declined before its more protperous DCJghbor, Jcffcrsonville 
(founded in iSoj), and has now become but a suburb of the maaufacturing town 
of New Albany. General George Rogers Clark had a home on a point of rocks 
near Clarksville.— Ed, 

Karly Western Travels 

consequence of the surrounding country being more opened, 
bilious complaints] ceased to be so frequent, and it is now 
considered by the inhabitants as healthy as any town on the 
river. \f here is a market house, where is a very good 
market every Wednesday and SaturdayJ The court house 
is a plain two story stone building, with a square roof and 
small belfry. There are bells here on the roofs of the tav- 
erns as in Lexington, to summon the guests to their meals, 
^reat retail business is done here, and much produce is 
shipped to New Orleani/ 

May II. — At four P. M. Mr. Nelson, a pilot, came on 
board and conducted the boats through the falls, by the 
Kentucky schute, and in forty-five minutes we moored at 
Shippingport, where we found commodore Peters's boat 
and officers, and captain Nevitt's gun boat, all bound to 
New Orleans in a few days. 

[236] Shippingport is a fine harbour, there being no cur- 
rent in it, but the banks are rather low, so as to be inundated 
at very high floods. 

Mr, Berthoud, who has a handsome house here, is coh- 
nected with Mr. Tarascon of Louisville in one of the finest 
rope walks in the United States. It is twelve hundred feet 
long, of which seven hundred and fifty are covered.'^' 

A little above the port is a mill wrought by the Ohio, the 
race being formed by a small bank, which has been cut 
through purposely. 

'" Shippingsport — now a portion ot the dty of Louisville — was incorporated 
under the name of Caropbellville in 1785. The name was changed when James 
Berthoud became its proprietor m 1805. Shippingsport was an important starting 
place for traffic west and south ftom Louisville, until the construction of the Louia- 
ville and Portland Canal in 1833. 

The Tarascons were brothers who came from France to Kentucky, early in the 
nineteenth century. They built large mills al Shippingsport (1815-19), and « 
known as enleiprising and public-spirited citizens. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 

Doe run — Blue river — Wheatley's — Conversation with 
Wheatley about the Indians — Squire Tobin's — Horse 
machinery boat. 

May 12. — At six A. M. proceeded down the river, and 
seven miles from Shippingport, passed Sullivan's ferry, from 
whence a road is traced one hundred and twenty miles to 
Post Vincennes, the capital of Indiana.'" The current of 
the Ohio now carried us five miles an hour, passing settle- 
ments on the right every mile with a range of picturesque 
hills behind them. 

Twenty-five miles from the falls, we passed Salt river, 
about eighty yards wide, on the left, with some neat settle- 
ments on each side of it, and also on the opposite bank of 
the Ohio, which latter bank is overhung by some very high 
rocky precipices. Twelve miles further on the left, we 
stopped at Doe run to purchase necessaries. This is a small 
creek, but has a thriving little settlement of half a dozen 
families on its [237] banks. The price of provisions is here 
as we had found it generally, viz. Butter 12-^ cents per lb. 
eggs 61 cents per dozen, milk 6| cents per quart, fowls 12-J- 
cents each, and turkies in proportion to their size from 25 
to 50 cents each. At half past six, P. M. we passed Buck 
creek on the right, five miles from Doe run, and half a mile 
lower on the same side, we stopped and moored at an excel- 
lent landing under a house on the bank. 

May 13th, at dawn of day we went on, passing at two 
miles and a half, on the right, a very remarkable rocky cliff 
overhanging a cabin and small settlement. We passed 
Indian creek and two islands in twelve miles more, and then 
came to Blue river, on the right, fifty yards wide. 

'" For the early history ot Vincennes, see Croghan's Journals, vol. i of this series, 
p. 141, note 113.— Ed. 

262 Early Western Travels [VoL 4 

The river hills, which are generally a considerable dis- 
tance behind the banks below Louisville, now approached 
quite close on each side. 

On each side of Blue river is a settlement, the uppermost 
one three years old, but very little advanced, has a large 
family of children and their mother almost naked. Noth- 
ing apparently flourishing except a large garden of onions, 
for a few of which with a pound or two of Indian meal to 
make leaven, the woman would fix no price, but thinking 
herself badly paid with a quarter of a dollar, I gave her an 
eighth more to satisfy her. The lower settlement was 
began two years ago by one Thomas Davidson, from Car- 
lisle, in Pennsylvania, and must become a fine property if 
Mr. Harrison, the present govemour of Indiana, succeeds 
in establishing, according to his intentions, a ship yard on 
Blue river, which is a most ehgible situation for it. He has 
already erected a grist and saw mill about eight miles up 
it,'" where it is joined by a rivulet, which rising suddenly 
from a spring m a prairie seventeen miles above the mill, 
tinges the water from its source to its discharge into the 
Ohio with a clear blue colour, which however [238] does 
not effect its goodness, it being of an excellent quality. 

Blue river itself is navigable for batteaux forty miles. 

An old Indian trace, now the post road from LouisvUle 
to Vincennes, crosses it at twenty-five miles from its mouth. 

The distance from the govemour's mills to Vincennes, 
is about one hxmdred miles. 

'" The career of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, 
belongs to general history. BarrisoD was appointed governor of Indiana Tenitoiy 
upon ita erectJOD in iSoo, and toolc much interest in its development. While 
making his home al Vincennes, he became interested in the Blue River settlcractlt, 
which was begun about iSoj by Squire Boone (brother of Daniel) and his son 
Moses. The settlement and Harrison's mills were at a place now called Wilson's 
SpiingE in Harrison County, Indiana. — ED. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


After leaving Blue river we went sixteen miles without 
any settlement, and then passed a small one on the left. 
The river having narrowed in that distance to less than a 
quarter of a mile wide, and very crooked, with gently slop- 
ing hills rising from the banks. Ten miles lower, on the 
left, we came to the next settlement just began, and three 
miles further passed Flint island, one mile long, with the 
hull of a small ship on the upper end, stranded there in 
descending last winter from Marietta. 

When about three miles below Flint island, the wind 
blowing very fresh ahead and causing a good de^d of sea, we 
stopped on the right shore abreast of Wheatly's cabin, and 
moored. Wheatly comes from Redstone in Pennsylvania, 
and first lived on the opposite bank in Kentucky, where he 
owned one thousand acres of land, which he was obliged 
to part with from following boating and neglecting fanning. 
He has now three hundred and forty acres here, from six 
of which that he has cleared, he raised last year five hundred 
bushels of com. He told us that a small tribe of Miami 
Indians were encamped on Oil creek about two miles dis- 
tant. On asking if they were troublesome, he replied with 
much sang froid, still splitting his log, "We never permit 
them to be troublesome, for if any of them displease us, 
we take them out of doors and kick them a little, for they are 
like dogs, and so will love you the better for it." This 
doctrine might suit an athletick, active man, [239] upwards 
of sLx feet high and in the prime of life, like Wheatly, but 
I question whether the Indians would submit to it from 
people less powerful. He informed us, that they frequently 
get the Indians together, take their guns, knives and toma- 
hawks from them, then treat them with whiskey until they 
are drunk, when they set them by the ears, to have the pleas- 
ure of seeing them fight, at which they are so awkward 


Earfy Western Travels 


(like young bears, according to his phrase) that they scuffle 
for hours without drawing blood, and when their breath 
is exhausted they will sit down quietly to recruit, and then 
"up and at it again." 

We picked some fine wild greens (lamb's quarters) and 
got some milk, and next morning, 

May 14th, proceeded. At eight miles below we passed 
some good settlements on the right, and a ferry, from whence 
a trace is opened seventy-five miles, to Vincennes. Leav- 
ing Sinking creek on the right, and a large double log cabin 
and very fine settlement on the left, ten miles more brought 
us to squire Tobin's on the Indiana side, where we landed 
in the skiff. The squire has opened a fine farm in the three 
years he has been from Redstone, Pennsylvania. 

lA keel of forty tons came to the landing at the same time 
we did. She was worked by a horizontal wheel, kept in 
motion by six horses going round in a circle on a gallery above 
the boat, by which are turned two cog wheels fixed each to an 
axle which projects over both gunwales of the boat, one 
before and the other behind the horizontal wheel. Eight 
paddles are fixed on the projecting end of each axle, which 
impel the boat about five or six miles an hour, so that she 
can be forced against the current about twenty miles a day. 
One Brookfield, the owner, who conducts the boat, had her 
built last year about two miles above Louisville, in Ken- 
tucky, and then went in her to New Orleans, from whence 
he was now [240] returning, disposing of a cargo of sugar 
from place to place in his ascent. He expected to get home 
and to commence a second voyage in about a month. Seven 
horses had died during the voyage, and he had only two 
remaining of the first set he had commenced withH 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 265 


Scuffletown — A good military position — Green River — 
Scarcity of stone — A hospitable Scotchman — Town of 
Henderson — Cotton machine — Diamond island — Ban- 
ditti and their extermination — Former dangers in 
descending the rivers. 

We continued to float down the river the remainder 
of the 14th and all night, fifty miles — passing Deer creek, 
Windy creek, Anderson's river and Crooked creek, and 
some islands — the banks having settlements at every 
mile or two. The shores of the river now became low, the 
hills being lost in the distance on each side. 

May igth.^ Having passed two more islands, and some 
new farms, in nine miles and a half, we came to a string of 
six or seven good looking settlements, called Scuffletown, on 
the left, and two miles and a half farther on the right, we 
observed two new settlements, a small creek, and a bluff 
rock, serving as a base to an elevated conick promontory, 
terminating a wide reach, and narrowing the river so by 
its projection, as to make it an eligible situation for a forti- 
fied post. Seven miles from hence we came to Green 
river on the left, about two hundred yards wide. It falls 
into the #hi* from the eastward, and at the junction the 
latter river, changing its direction from S. W. to west, the view 
of it upwards is lost, [241] and looking back to the eastward, 
Green river appears to be a continuation of the Ohio, 
Several new settlements are farming on the banks of Green 
river, the chmate and soil being well adapted to the culture 
of cotton, but the former is esteemed unhealthy, the inhabi- 
tants being very subject to intermittent fevers. A skiff 
boarded us here from an ark astern, which was bound to 
the mouth of the Ohio, from whence the people on board 
were to proceed in a keel up the Mississippi to St. Genevieve 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

in Upper Louisiana."' A few miles farther we spoke two 
large loaded canoes bound upwards. 

Nine miles below Green river, we passed a point of rocks 
on the right — the only stone on the river between this 
and Shawanee town, a distance of seventy miles, on which 
account the section it lies in was bid up at publick sale to 
ten dollars an acre, though the usual price is two. Three 
miles from hence we left Blair's ferry on the right, where a 
road crosses from Kentucky, fifty-four mUes to Vincennes. 
A mile more brought us to Patterson's on the right, where 
we landed in the skiff. Mr. Patterson is a Scotchman 
from Aberdeen, which he left before the revolutionary war, 
going to Grenada in the West Indies, where he managed 
the noble estate of Harvey's plains (noted for its rum of much 
superiour quality) nine years. The liver complaint forced 
him to remove from thence to New York, where he married 
and resided several years. He brought his family from 
thence to this place last year. Mrs. Patterson thought 
they were to find a country abundant in eery thing, with 
little or no trouble, but now, being undeceived by experience, 
she jocularly remarked, that if the current of the river would 
change, she would most gladly seize the occasion to return 
immediately to where she came from. This family is set- 
tled in a much more comfortable manner than the generality 
of new planters. There were some neighbours on a [242] 
visit, and the table was covered for supper in a very neat 
and plentiful manner, which, with much hospitality, we 

"* The original village of Ste. Genevieve wb3 about three miles south of the 
pieseol Missouri town of that name. The exact date of its founding is not known, 
but it was upon a raining grant given to Regnault. A ttHc of a chimney found in 
1881 bears the date 173J — possibly the first year of the settlement. The cession 
of the Illinois to the English (1763) brought an accession of French itihabitants: and 
in 1 766, the Spanish ordered to Ste. Genevieve a commandant and gairisoD. Tbe 
earliest American inhabitants were John and Israel Dodge, the latter b^g father 
of Governor Henry Dodge of Wisconsin. The encroachment of the river (aboat 
1784-85) caused the old to be abandoned for tbe modem site. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 267 

were pressed to partake of, but the boats having passed, we 
could not stop. 

Five miles from hence we stopped and moored for the 
night at Henderson or Redbank. This is the county town 
of Henderson county in Kentucky.'" It contains about 
twenty wooden houses and cabins, including two stores and 
two large tobacco warehouses. At a squire M'Bride's we 
saw a patent machine, which gins, cards and spins cotton, 
all at once, by one person (it may be a child) turning a wheel. 
Eight threads are spun at once, and wound upon eight spools. 
It is ingenious and simple, and occupies no more room than 
a small table. 

About five hundred hogsheads of tobacco are shipped here 
every year, and the place now begins to thrive a little, since 
several wealthy people have settled in the neighbourhood, 
and on Green river. From the opposite bank a road leads 
to Vincennes, which is only fifty-two miles distant. 

May i6th. — Proceeding, we went to the right of Red- 
bank island, and at twelve miles passed a ferry on the right, 
and entered the right hand channel of Diamond island — 
there being settlements every half mile. Nothing can be 
more beautifully situated than this fine island. It is four 
miles and a half long, and contains eight hundred acres of 
the finest land, well timbered. 

It takes its name from its form, which is that of a rhombus 
or diamond. The river is above a quarter of a mile wide 
all around it, and above half a mile wide below in a straight 
reach of two or three miles. It is owned by a Mr. Alvis, a 
Scotchman, of great property in South Carolina, who 
bought it about two years ago of one Wells, the original loca- 
tor. Alvis has a negro quarter, and near one hundred and 

"* HendenoQ County was formed in 1 798, being named u honor of Colonel 
Kichard Henderson of Transylvania fame. The great ornithologist, John James 
Audubon, came to Hendeiwm in 1S12; but it was not until many yean later thai 
lilt work mtiAt him known to the adentlfic world. — Ed. 

268 Early Western Travels [\'ol. 4 

fifty acres of land cleared on the Kentucky shore opposite 
[243] the island. This used to be the principal haunt of 
a banditti, from twenty to thirty in number, amongst which 
the names of Harper, five Masons, and Corkendale, were 
the most conspicuous. They attacked and plundered the 
passing boats, and frequendy murdered the crews and 
passengers. At length the government of Kentucky sent 
a detachment of militia against them. They were sur- 
prised, and Harper, one of the Masons and three or 
four more were shot, one in the arms of his wife, who 
escaped unhurt though her husband received eleven balls. 
The rest dispersed, and again recruiting, became under 
Mason the father, the terrour of the road through the wilder- 
ness between Nashville in Tennessee and the Mississippi 
Territory. About four years ago, two of the gang, tempted 
by the reward of five hundred dollars for Mason dead or 
alive, offered by the govemour of Mississippi Territory, shot 
him, carried his head to Natchez, received the promised 
reward, which they expected, and a more just one which 
they did not expect, being both found guilty of belonging to 
the gang, and being executed accordingly.*" 

It is impossible to convey even a faint idea of the dangers 
to which people descending those rivers were liable, until 
within a few years that the population of the banks has 
become general. 

The Indians could not brook the intrusion of the whites 
on the hunting grounds and navigable waters which they 
had been in habits of considering as their own property 
from time immemorial, and partly through revenge for 
the usurpation of their rights, partly to intimidate others, 
but chiefly from the hopes of booty, all the nations in the 

"* Tbe taJes of the robberies and atrodttes of the Harpe and Mawn bonditd 
diSering lat^y in details. Cuming's accounl "^"i' to be tairl)' 
'ifpi (JacksoD. 1S80), pp. 3i5-)»8.— Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the IVest 269 

neighbourhood of the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee, 
and the Mississippi, and even those more remote, used to 
send detachments of warriours and hunters to Ue in wait in 
the narrow passes, and do their utmost to cut off all travel- 
lers, in which they often succeeded through [244] their ex- 
pertness with the rifle; and it is not improbable but some 
white desperadoes, imder the appearance of Indians, were 
guilty of atrocities of the same nature against their coun- 
trymen, without the shadow of any of the excuses afforded 
to the aborigines. 


Highland creek and good settlements — Carthage — Wabash 

island — Wabash river — Shawanee tovm — Saline river 

and salt works — Remarkable cavern — The Rocking cave. 

Seven miles below Diamond island, we came to Straight 
island, and nine miles further, to Slim island, which is three 
miles and a half long, with a settlement on its upper end. 

Highland creek, the mouth Wocked up with drift, is three 
miles below Slim island an the left, and opposite on the 
Indiana shore are three families of Robinsons, the first set- 
tlements in that distance. There is a fine landing just 
below Highland creek, and two beautiful settlements owned 
by Messrs. Cooper and Austin, and a framed house rented 
by a Mr. Gilchrist, a temporary settler.'" We observed 
several boats laid up here, which had lately brought families 
down the river, which are all settled in the neighbourhood, 
and a mile lower down, we passed the scite of an intended 
town called Carthage, but where there is yet but one house. 

Two miles and a half below, we entered the Indiana 
sound of Wabash island, in a west direction, leaving the 
Kentucky sound (forming a beautifxil coup d'oeil with a 

'" This was the settlement that later developed into Unionlown, Eentuckj, s 
place of some impotiance on the lower Ohio, — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

small island and clump of trees directly in the centre) run- 
ning S. W. on the left. 

[245] We would have gone through the latter sound, but 
for a wish to see the Wabash,'" the largest river in Indiana, 
and upon which its capital Vincennes is seated. Its mouth 
is overlapped from three miles above to two below by Wabash 
island, which is five miles long and contains three thousand 

The Wabash is a noble river, about three hundred yards 
wide at its mouth, but its banks are so low, that they are 
overflowed up to the eves of two cabins which are just above 
its embouchure, at every high fresh. The inhabitants had 
their cattle all drowned last spring, and were obliged to 
save themselves by going some miles from the banks. The 
cabin next the point where the two rivers join, is large and 
has a tavern sign. 

About three miles below the end of Wabash island, leaving 
Brovm's island, and the two uppermost of the Three Sis- 
ters on the right, we rowed to the Kentucky shore, and 
moored for the night just under the cabin and well improved 
farm of Peter Lash, who has been here four years, and in- 
formed us, that there was a fine populous settlement of 
several families behind us. 

May 17th, we cast off at the dawn of day, passed the 
third Sister, and a lake on the right which extends about 
ten miles into the country, and abounds in fish, and at seven 
miles from Lash's we rowed in among some trees, and 
moored and landed at Shawanee town.'" 

This was formerly an Indian settlement, the only vestiges 
of which now remaining, are two barrows for interment at 

"' On the early history o£ the Wabsah River, see Croghan's Jotimali, vol. i of 
this series, p. 137, note 107. — Ed. 

"• On the early history of Shawneelown, see Croghan's Jounudt, vol. i of tUs 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West zy\ 

the upper end, and a growth of young trees all around the 
town, which evince that the land has been cleared, at no 
great distance of time back. The town now contains about 
twenty-four cabins, and is a place of considerable resort on 
account of the saline salt-works about twelve miles distant, 
which supply with salt all the settlements within one [246] 
hundred miles, and I believe even the whole of Upper 

The United States' general government having reserved 
to itself the property of the scite of this town, the salt licks, 
and all the intermediate tract from Saline river, the inhabi- 
tants have no other tenure than the permission of the gover- 
ncur of the territory to reside there during his pleasure, so 
they make no comfortable improvements, although they 
appear to be in a very prosperous situation from their trade; 
so much so, that they say, that it would immediately become 
one of the most considerable towns on the river, if they 
could purchase lots in fee simple. — There were several 
trading boats at the landing, and more appearance of busi- 
ness than I had seen on this side Pittsburgh. We walked 
to the Indian burying ground, where we saw several human 
bones, and picked up some of the small copper bells, used 
by the natives as ornaments, which had been interred with 
them, and which had become as thin and light as paper. 

May 1 8th, proceeded nine miles to Saline river on the 
right. This is a fine stream, fifty yards wide, navigable for 
keels and batteaux. The salt-works are about twenty 
miles up it with the turnings of the river, though not over 
ten in a right line. There is a considerable hill on the 
right, on the lower bank of this river where it joins the 

Five miles from Saline river, we passed Battery rock, 
which is a very remarkable point of rocks on the right, 
with a cabin and farm beautifully situated on the hill above. 

272 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

We now began to see river hills again, rising to a moderate 
height, from a little behind the banks on each side. 

Four miles from hence we left Flinn's ferry, where is a 
very handsome settlement on the left. Three miles and a 
half farther brought us to the upper end of Rocking cave 
island, just above which the river is [247] a mile wide, and 
in another mile we saw on the right Casey's farm, where the 
landing abounds in curious loose limestone petrifactions. 
Two thirds of a mile from hence, we thought we saw the 
Rocking cave, when we observed a cavern forty-five feet 
deep, three wide, and nine high, the floor ascending grad- 
ually to the vault at the end, where it is terminated by a 
petrifaction, like the hanging pipes of a large organ. — The 
sides which meet at the top, forming a Gothick arch, are of 
limestone, with several large nuclei of flint, which seem to 
have been broken off designedly to smooth the inside of the 

Rowing along shore with the skiff, we were soon unde- 
ceived as to that's being the Rockmg cave, as a third of a mile 
lower down, one of the finest grottos or caverns I have ever 
seen, opened suddenly to view, resembling the choir of a 
large church as we looked directly into it. We landed im- 
mediately under it and entered it. It is natural, but is 
evidently improved by art in the cutting of an entrance three 
feet wide through the rock in the very centre, leaving a 
projection on each hand excavated above to the whole 
breadth of the cavern, the projections resembling gaUeries. 
The height of the mouth is about twenty-two, and that 
of the rock about thirty. It is crowned by large cedars 
and black and white oaks, some of which impend over, and 
several beautiful shrubs and flowers, particularly very rich 
columbines, are thickly scattered all around the entrance. 
The length (or depth) of the cavern is fifty-five paces, and 
its breadth eleven or twelve. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 273 

Standing on the outside, the appearance of some of the 
company at the inner end of the cave was truly picturesque, 
they being diminished on the eye to half their size, and 
removed to three times their real distance. 

On advancing twenty paces within, the path or aisle 
gradually ascending has risen to the level of the[248]galleries, 
and from thence to the end is a spacious apartment of the 
whole breadth, ascending until it meets the rocky vault, 
which is of bluish grey limestone. Twelve paces from the 
end is a fissure in the vault, to which is fixed a notched 
pole, to serve for a ladder, but the cavity has the appearance 
of nothing more than a natural cleft in the rock, large enough 
to admit the entrance of a man, and perhaps extending some 
little distance sloping upwards."' 

There is a perpendicular rocky bluff, just opposite the 
lower end of Cave island, about two hundred yards above 
the cave, where the river narrows to less than half a mile 
wide, forming a fine situation for a fortification. 


Extortion of a countrywoman — Robins's ferry — Lusk's 

ferry — Cumberland river — Smithland — Tennessee 

river — Fort Massack — Wilkinson ville — Ship Rufus 

King — Enter the Mississippi. 

Half a mile below the Rocking cave, we stopped at 
Perkins's finely situated farm, where we feasted on some 
good buttermilk, and bought some eggs, but on demanding 
the price, and being asked by Mrs. Perkins, with an un- 
blushing face, four times as much as we had hitherto paid 
for the first article, and twice as much as had ever been 
demanded for the second, we left the eggs with her, and paid 
her for the buttermilk, not however without telling her, how 

"* This is now known as Cave-in-Rock, bora a laige cave (Hardin County, 
lUioois) in whicb a band of robbera hid tlianadves (iSoi). — £d. 

274 Early Western Travels [\oL 4 

much she ought to be ashamed to take such advuit^e of 
the necessities of travellers. 

The right hand shore now consisted of bold projecting 
rocks, with openings at intervals, in all of [249] which are 
settlements, while the Kentucky side being low is more 
thinly inhabited. 

After passing Hurricane island, we came to Robins's 
feiTy on the right, from whence is a road ooe hundred and 
thirty miles to Kaskaskias on the Mississippi, and about 
two miles lower on the left, we observed one of the finest 
atuations we bad seen on the Ohio; it was a hill occupied 
by a house and farm, opposite to a rectangular bend of the 
river which forms a beautiful bason. Three miles further 
on the right, is a hill with a remarkable face to the river, of 
perpendicular rocks of a reddish colour, below which, is a 
settlement and a creek, from whence Cumberland river is 
twenty-five miles distant. 

Four miles more brought us to Lusk's ferry on the right, 
now owned by one Ferguson from South Carolina, who has 
a very good house and fine farm, with Little Bay creek 
joining the Ohio just above. The main road from Ken- 
tucky to Kaskaskias crosses here — the latter distant one 
hundred and fifteen mfles. 

Having passed the Three Sisters' islands and Big Bay 
creek on the right, at eleven miles below Ferguson's, we 
rowed in to the right shore, and moored to some trees, where 
we had a heavy storm all night, with thunder, lightning, and 
hail as large as pigeons' eggs. 

May 19th, proceeding at early dawn, we passed Stewart's 
island on the left, and the first of Cumberland islands on 
the right, just below which, we observed on the Indian 
shore, the fine settlement we had seen from B^ Bay creek, 
nine miles. 

With some diflSculty and much rowing, we forced our 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 275 

boats into the narrow Kentucky channel of the second 
Cumberland island a mile below the first, as otherwise we 
should not have been able to have got into Cumberland 
river, which the second island overlaps. A mile more 
brought us to the entrance of [250] Cumberland river, across 
which we rowed, and moored at the little town of Smithland. 

This town contains only ten or a dozen houses and cabins, 
including two stores, two taverns and a billiard table. 
There appears to be only about thirty acres of land, badly 
cleared and worse cultivated around it, though the soil 
seems very good, but as it is :is yet only considered as a 
temporary landing to boats bound up and down Cum- 
berland river, the inhabitants depend on what they can 
make by their intercourse with them, and are not solicitous 
to cultivate more land than will suffice to give them maize 
enough for themselves and their horses. They live chiefly 
on bacon, which comes down the two rivers, and com, being 
too indolent to butcher or to fish, though they might raise 
any quantity of stock, and doubtless the Ohio and Cumber- 
land both abound in fish. On the whole it is a miserable 
place, and a traveller will scarcely think himself repaid by a 
sight of the Cumberland, for stopping at Smithland. 

There is an old Indian burying ground at the upper end 
of the town, where we found several human bones enclosed 
in thin flattish stone tombs close to the surface. 

Cumberland river mixes its clear blue stream with the 
muddy Ohio at an embouchure of about three hundred 
yards vride. It is the principal river for business in the 
state of Tennessee, Nashville the capital, being situated 
on its banks, one hundred and eighty miles by water, and 
one hundred and thirty by land, above its conflux with the 

*" For the early histoiy of Nuhville, tee Uichftux's TnmtU, vol. iii of Ibis 
tents, p. 61, note 103. — Ed. 


Early fVestem Travels 

[Vol. 4 

May 20th, havTDg parted with Mrs. Waters, her charming 
daughter, and the rest of her family, they being destined 
for Nashville, we cast off, and rowed out of Cumberland 
river against the back water of the Ohio, whose true current- 
we took on turning the lower point of Cumberland. 

[251] The first three miles brought us abreast of Lower 
Smithland, a settlement on the left — having passed all 
Cumberland islands, and after dropping four miles lower, 
the sea ran so high, from a strong wind up the river, that 
we judged it prudent to row in and moor under a low willow 
point on the left, where we remained all the rest of the day 
and night, and had a violent tornado at midnight, of thunder, 
lightning, wind, and rain. 

May 2ist, we proceeded early this morning and at five 
miles and a half passed the mouth of Tennessee river join- 
ing the Ohio on the left from the S. E. and nearly half a mile 
wide. There are two islands at its mouth, the second one 
of which has an abandoned settlement on it. In the next 
eleven miles we passed three small settlements on the right, 
being the first habitations we had seen below Lower Smith- 
land, and at noon, a mile below the last, we rowed into the 
mouth of a creek at the bottom of a bay, which forming an 
eddy, makes a fine landing for boats of all sizes, on the right 

On fastening the boat, a corporal from Fort Massack 
just above the landing, came on board, and took a memo- 
randum of our destination, &c. We landed, and approach- 
ing the fort, we were met by lieutenant Johnston, who very 
politely shewed us the barracks, and his own quarters 
within the fort, in front of which is a beautiful esplanade, 
with a row of Lombardy poplars in front, from whence is a 
view upwards to Tennessee river, downwards about two 
miles, and the opposite shore which is one mile and a quarter 
distant — the Ohio being now so wide. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the JVest zyy 

The fort is formed of pickets, and is a square, with a 
small bastion at each angle. The surrounding plain is 
cleared to an extent of about sixty acres, to serve for exer- 
cising the garrison in military evolutions, and also to pre- 
vent surprise from an enemy. On the esplanade is a small 
brass howitzer, and a [252] brass caronade two pounder, 
both mounted on field carriages, and a centinel is always 
kept here on guard. The garrison consists of about fifty 
men. Some recruits were exercising. They were clean, 
and tolerably well clothed, and were marched in to the bar- 
rack yard preceded by two good drums and as many fifes. 
The house of captain Bissel the commandant, is without 
the pickets. 

Though the situation of Massack is pleasant and appar- 
ently healthy, it is a station which will only suit such officers 
as are fond of retirement, as there is no kind of society 
out of the garrison, and there are only a few settlements 
in the neighbourhood, which supply it with fresh stock. 

This was one of the chain of posts which the French occu- 
pied between Detroit and Orleans, when that nation pos- 
sessed Canada and Louisiana. It had fallen into ruin, 
but it has been reconstructed by the United States' govern- 
ment. It keeps its original name, which it derived from a 
massacre of the French garrison by the Indians.'" 

At one o'clock we proceeded on our voyage, and in half 
a mile turning a little to the right with the river, we entered 
a very long reach in a W. N. W. direction, and at three 
miles passed a new settlement on the right where the river 

'■ On the histor7 of Fort Massac, and the origin of its name, see Michaiuc's 
Traveli, vol. iiiof this series, p. 73, note ijg. 

Captain Daniel Bissell, the commandant at thia point, had welcomed Burr 
00 his descent of the Ohio two years bcfotr Cuming. Bissell joined the army from 
CoDQCCticiit as lieutenant, in 1794, being made captain in 1799, During the War 
of t8iJ-is, he became brigadier-geoefal and served on the nortbem frontier, 
winning a slight skirmish at Lyons Creek. He teugoed fcom the txmy in 1831, 
and died in 1S33, — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 


is two miles wide, with a very gentle current. The current 
carried us twelve miles and a half farther, without our per- 
ceiving any signs of inhabitants on either shore, we then 
rowed in to Cedar Bluffs or Wilkinsonville, where we found 
an eddy making a fine harbour, and an ascent up a low 
cliff by sixty-two steps of squared logs, to a beautiful saviin- 
nah or prairie of about one hundred acres, with well fre- 
quented paths through and across it in every direction. We 
observed on it, the ruins of the house of the commandant, 
and the barracks which were occupied by a small United 
States' garrison, until a few years ago, when it was removed 
[253] to Fort Massack; some time after which, about two 
years ago, the buildings were destroyed by the Indians. 

Though our harbour here was a good one, yet we did 
not spend our night with perfect ease of mind, from the 
apprehension of an unwelcome visit from the original lords 
of this country, recent vest^es of whom we had seen in the 
prairie above us. 

May 22nd, at day break we gladly cast off, and at a mile 
below Wilkinsonville, turned to the left into a long reach in 
a S. W. by S. direction, where in nine miles farther, the river 
gradually narrows to half a mile wide, and the current is 
one fourth stronger than above. Three miles lower we saw 
a cabm and small clearing on the right shore, apparently 
abandoned, five miles below which we landed in the skifii, 
and purchased some fowls, eggs, and milk, at a solitary but 
pleasant settlement on the right just below Cash island. It 
is occupied by one Petit with his family, who stopped here 
to make a crop or two previous to his descending the 
Mississippi, according to his intention on some future 

Two miles and a half from hence we left Cash river, a 
fine harbour for boats about thirty yards wide at its mouth, 
on the right, and from hence we had a pleasant and cheer- 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 279 

ful view down the river, in a S. S. E. direction five miles to 
the Mississippi. 

First on the right just below the mouth of Cash river, 
M'Mullin's pleasant settlement, and a little lower a cabin 
occupied by a tenant who labours for him. A ship at 
anchor close to the right shore, three miles lower down, 
enlivened the view, which was closed below by colonel 
Bird's flourishing settlement on the south bank of the Mis- 

We soon passed and spoke the ship, which was the Rufus 
King, captain Clarke, receiving a cargo of tobacco, &c. by 
boats down the river from Kentucky, and intended to pro- 
ceed in about a week, on a voyage [254] to Baltimore. It 
was now a year since she was built at Marietta, and she had 
got no farther yet. 

At noon we entered the Mississippi ilowing from E. above, 
to E. by S. below the conflux of the Ohio, which differs con- 
siderably from its general course of from north to south. 

River Mississippi — Iron banks — Chalk bank — Re- 
raarkable melody of birds — Bayou St. Jean — New 
Madrid — Delightful morning — Little Prairie — An 
Indian camp — Mansfield's island. 

We had thought the water of the Ohio very turbid, but 
it was clear in comparison of the Mississippi, the two rivers 
being distinctly marked three or four miles after their junc- 
tion. The Ohio carried us out almost into the middle of 
the Mississippi, so that I was almost deceived into thinking 
that the latter river ran to the westward instead of to the 

"* The Missouri point opposite Cairo wu acquired by an Ameiicaii from the 
Spanish government, but no settlement seems to have been made theicon until 
1808, when Abraham Bird, who had several ycais previous removed from VirgimB 
to Cairo, crossed over and built a home at this place, thereafter known as Bird's 
Point. This proptert; was in the hands of the Birds for three generations. — Ed. 

28o Early Western TravfU [\'oL 4 

eastward ; by the time however that we were near midcban- 
nel the Mississippi had gained the ascendancy, and we were 
forced to eastward with encreased velocity, its current being 
more rapid than that of the Ohio. We soon lost sight of the 
labyrinth of waters formed by the conflux of the two rivers, 
and quickly got into a single channel, assuming gradually 
its usual southerly direction. We now began to look for 
Fort Jefferson, marked in Mr. Cramer's Navigator as just 
above Maj-field creek on the left, but not seeing either we 
supposed they were concealed by island N'o. i acting as a 
screen to them.'" 

At fifteen miles from the Ohio, we obser\*ed a fine new 
settlement on the right, with the boats moored [255] at the 
landing which had brought the family down the river. 

Five miles lower we passed the Iron banks on the left. 
These are very remarkable, being a red cliff near the lop of a 
high ridge of hills about a mile long, where the river is nar- 
rowed to little more than a quarter of a mile wide. 

From the Iron banks a fine bay of a mile in breadth is 
terminated by the Chalk bank, which is a whitish brown 
bluff cliff, rising from the water's edge, surmounted by a 
forest of lofty trees. Having passed some other islands, we 
made a harbour for the night on Wc^ island just opposite 
Chalk bank, about three miles below the Iron banks. 

May 23d. — A steady rain did not prevent our [»oceeding 
this morning. We found the ri\'er generaUy from half to 
three quarters of a mile wide, and the navigation rather 
intricate on account of the number of islands and sand-bars, 

"■ Vtm JcCenoa aat bgai by G«ecge Rogen CUifc m iIk afoa^ of ifflo, b 
o^a to praMd ibc lUDni wttk w t B tt . aad m.i.ii.m the \'ii^aua dini lo ikfa 
pan of Ae tEnte(7. Pit plfri • town hmtorecaTc faisowit ■■■« (dnfcs- 
rille); bat frw wS^a% waA o^ n Ac poM «■• dataM ml moA 'rpvrA In 
i;ei. Fan Jcfloaxi wa beMCCBd bf ihe CtUkaaaM% vm^ tk tad ol a ImH- 
bncd. .AlenndeT Colbm. "Hmetr aMM^n tam^ tfe nqp 
tbe fan «as abaadoari ■ J-omtolAemmt jcar. — Ea. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 

which gave us some trouble to keep clear of. The rain 
ceased about three o'clock, when it cleared up calm and hot. 
At 4 o'clock we passed Island No. 10, on the right. The 
singing of the birds on this island exceeded every thing of 
the kind I had ever before heard in America. Notes re- 
sembling the wild clear whistle of the European black birds, 
and others like the call of the quail, or American partridge, 
were particularly distinguishable among a wonderful variety 
of feathered songsters. The island probably bears some 
vegetable production peculiar to itself, which attracts such 
uncommon numbers of small birds. 

At seven, P. M. we rowed into Bayou St. Jean, on the 
right, at the upper end of New Madrid, to which settlement 
it serves for a harbour, — having only advanced about fifty 
miles this whole day. We found here several boats bound 
down the river. 

New Madrid contains about a hundred houses, much 
scattered, on a fine plain of two miles square, [256] on 
which however the river has so encroached during the 
twenty-two years since it was first settled, that the bank is 
now half a mOe behind its old bounds, and the inhabitants 
have had to remove repeatedly farther back. They are a 
mixture of French Creoles from Illinois, United States 
Americans, and Germans. They have plenty of cattle, 
but seem ii^ other respects to be very poor. There is some 
trade with the Indian hunters for furs and peltry, but of 
little consequence. Dry goods and groceries are enormously 
high, and the inhabitants charge travellers immensely for 
any common necessaries, such as milk, butter, fowls, eggs, 
&c. There is a militia, the officers of which wear cockades 
in common as a mark of distinction, although the rest of 
their dress should be only a dirty ragged hunting shirt and 
trowsers. — There is a church going to decay and no preacher, 
and there are courts of common pleas and quarter sessions, 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

from which an appeal lies to the supreme court at St. Louis, 
the capital of the territory of Upper Louisiana, which is two 
hundred and forty miles to the northward, by a wagon road 
which passes through St. Genevieve at 180 miles distance. — 
On account of its distance from the capital. New Madrid 
has obtained a right to have all trials for felony held and 
adjudged here without appeal. 

The inhabitants regret much the change of government 
from Spanish to American, but this I am not surprised at, 
as it is the nature of mankind to never be satisfied.'" 

We had observed no settlements between the Ohio and 
New Madrid except one new one before mentioned. 

May 24th. — At eight, A. M. we left New Madrid, and 
after toiling until three, P. M. against a fresh southerly 
wind, when we had advanced only eleven miles, we were 
forced to shore on the left, and hauling through some wil- 
lows which broke off [257] the sea, moored and remained 
there untC four A. M. 

May 25th — when we were awoke to the enjoyment of a 
delightful morning, by the enchanting melody of the birds 
saluting the day, while the horn of a boat floating down the 
far side of the river, was echoed and re-echoed from both 
shores, to all which we added, with fine effect, some airs on 
the clarionet and the octave flute. When we hauled out of 
the willows, several boats were in sight, which added much 
to the cheerfulness of the morning. 

'" New Madrid was originiilly the site of a Delaware Indian town, at which two 
Canadiaos, named LeSueur, established a trading-house in 17S0. Ejght yean later 
Colonel George Morgan attempted to obtain a large concession from the Spanish 
government to establish an American colony at this point, with rights of local 
self-government. Morgan brought out the first installineat of colonists, but the 
arrangements at New Orleans which were lo confirm his title to the grant failed 
of conipledon. The Spanish authorities sent lieutenant Pierre Foucher, with a 
garrison of ninety men, to command here in 1789. A settlement of a heterogeneous 
character, as Cuming indicates, gradually grew up around the fort. The later 
history of New Madrid is chieSy concerned with the disastrous earthquakes 
181 1-I3, and the congressional grant of relief for the settlers. — Ed. 

rthquakes of ^^^^^H 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 283 

Having passed several islands, we saw on the right the 
settlement of one Biddle, being the first on the river since 
four miles below New Madrid. 

Four miles lower we landed in" the skiff at the town of 
Little Prairie on the right, containing twenty-four low 
houses and cabins, scattered on a fine and pleasant plain 
inhabited chiefly by French Creoles from Canada and 
Illinois. We were informed that there were several Anglo- 
American farmers all round in a circle of ten miles. We 
stopped at a tavern and store kept by a European French- 
man, where we got some necessaries. 

Every thing is excessively dear here, as in New Madrid — 
butter a quarter of a dollar per pound, milk half a dollar per 
gallon, eggs a quarter of a dollar a dozen, and fowls half 
to three quarters of a dollar each. 

We found here five lumber loaded boats owned by Mr. 
Holmes of Meadville, which had left Pittsburgh about the 
20th of March. Three of them had been stove, and they 
were going to unload and repair them. 

Continuing to coast along in the skiff, while our ark fell 
down the river with the current, we landed about a mile 
below Little Prairie, at an Indian camp formed by the 
crews of three canoes, all Delawares except one Chocktaw. 
They had sold their peltry [258] and were now enjoying their 
whiskey, of which they had made such Hberal use as to be 
most of them quite drunk. They did not seem to like our 
intrusion, but on our demanding whiskey from them, and 
drinking with them, they became more social. 

Two miles below the Indian camp we again overtook our 
boat from which we had been absent the last fourteen miles, 
and seven miles lower, met a canoe with two Indians, who 
wanted to sell us skins. — After passing several islands as 
far as No. 21, of Mr. Cramer's Navigator, in twelve miles 
farther, we came to one not mentioned in the Navigator, 

284 Early Western Travels [A'ol. 4 

which we named Mansfield's island, from one of our pas- 
sengers who was the first to land on it. It was a beautiful 
little island, and the evening being far advanced, we were 
tempted to moor at its west point, to some willows on a fine 
hard sand, but we had nothing to boast of our choice of 
situation, as myriads of musquitoes effectually prevented 
our sleeping all night. 

Visit from Indian warriours — Our apprehensions — Indian 
manners and customs not generally known — First, 
Second and Third Chickasaw Bluffs, and several islands. 

May 26. — We drifted forty-three miles, between five 
o'clock, A. M. and five o'clock P. M. — passing several 
islands and sand-bars, and had got between island No. 31 
and Flour island, when an Indian canoe from the left shore 
boarded us with a chief and three warriours of the Shawanee 
nation.'" They had their rifles in the boat, and their 
knives [259] and tomahawks in their belts, and it is my 
opinion that their intentions were hostile had they seen any 
thing worth plundering, or found us intimidated — but by 
receiving them with a confident familiarity, and treating 
them cautiously with a little whiskey, they behaved tolerably 
well, and bartered a wild turkey which one of them had shot 
for some flour, though it might have been suppwsed that they 
would have made a compliment of it to us ui return for our 
civility to them, as besides giving them whiskey to drink, 
we had given them good wheat loaf bread to eat, and had 
filled a bottle they had in their canoe with whiskey for their 
squaws at the camp. It is remarked, that the Indians are 
not in habits of generous acts, either through the niggardli- 
ness of nature, or selfish mode of bringing up; or it may be 

'" On the Sbawnee Indians, see Weiser's Jtmmal, vol. i of this series, p. aj, 
note 13. — Ed. , 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 285 

owing to their intercourse with the white hunters and traders, 
who take every advantage of them in their dealings, and so 
set them an example of selfishness and knavery, which they 
attempt to follow. Our skiff which had been absent with 
some of the passengers now coming on board, encreased our 
numbers so as to render us more respectable in the eyes of our 
troublesome visitors, and being abreast of their camp, 
where the party appeared pretty numerous, they shook 
hands with, and left us, to our great joy, as we were not 
without apprehension that they would have received a rein- 
forcement of their companions from the shore, which in our 
defenceless state would have been a most disagreeable cir- 

They were well formed men, with fine countenances, 
and their chief was well drest, having good leggins and 
mockasins, and large tin ear-rings, and his foretop of hair 
turned up, and ornamented with a quantity of beads. 

Evening approaching, we plied our oars diligently, to 
remove ourselves as far as possible from the Indian camp 
before we should stop for the night, and by six [260] o'clock 
we had the upper end of Flour island on our right, three 
miles below where the Indians had left us. The river mak- 
ing a sudden bend here from east to south, we lost sight of 
the smoke of the camp, and of our apprehensions also, and 
about a mile farther, seeing a South Carolina and a Pitts- 
bui^h boat moored at the left bank, we rowed in and joined 
them. Near the landing was a newly abandoned Indian 
camp, the trees having been barked only within a day or 
two. To explain this it may be proper to observe, that the 
Indians, who are wanderers, continually shifting their 
hunting ground, form their temporary huts with two forked 
stakes, stuck in the ground, at from six to twelve feet apart, 
and from four to six feet high. A ridge pole is laid from 
fork to fork, and long pieces of bark stripped from the 


Early fVestem Travels 


neighbouring trees, are placed on their ends at a sufficient 
distance below, while the other ends overlap each other 
where they meet at the ridge pole, the whole forming a hut 
shaped Uke the roof of a common house, in which they 
make a fire, and the men, when not hunting, lounge at full 
length wrapped in their blankets, or sit cross legged, while 
the women do the domestick drudgery, or make baskets of 
various shapes with split cane, which they do with great 
neatness, and a certain degree of ingenuity. It any of the 
men die while on an excursion, they erect a sca£fold about five 
feet high, on which they place the corpse covered with the 
skin of a deer, a bear, or some other animal they have killed 
in hunting. The dead man's rifle, tomahawk, bow and 
arrows are placed along side of him on the scaffold, to which 
the whole is bound with strings cut from some hide. It is 
then surrounded with stout poles or stakes, ten or twelve 
feet long, drove firmly into the ground and so close to each 
other as not to admit the entry of a small bird. Some of 
the female relations, are left in the hut close to the scaffold, 
until the excursion is [261] finished; when, ere they return 
home to their nation, they bury the corpse with much 
privacy. — I had been informed that some priest or privileged 
person, who was called the bone picker, was always sent 
for to the nation to come and cleanse the bones from the 
flesh even in the most loathsome state of putrefaction, that the 
bones might be carried home and interred in the general 
cemetery, but I had frequent opportunities of proving the 
error of this opinion. As to the women, when they die, 
(which is very rare, except from old age) they are buried at 
once on the spot, with little or no ceremony. While on 
the subject of Indians, it may not be amiss to mention a 
trait in theu: character, of courage and submission to their 
laws, of which numberless instances have happened, par- 
ticularly amongst the Chocktaws on the frontier of the Mis- 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


sissippi Territory, and I believe common to all the Indian 
nations, which I do not recollect being noticed by any 
writer on the subject of their manners and customs. If any 
one maims or mutilates another, in a drunken or private 
fray, he must forfeit his life. A few days (or if necessary) 
even a few months, are allowed the offender to go where he 
pleases and setUe his affairs, at the expiration of which it 
has rarely if ever happened, that he does not surrender 
himself at the place appointed, to submit himself to the 
rifle of the injured party, or one of his nearest relatives, who 
never fails to exact the full penalty, by shooting the criminal. 
This is a very common circumstance, and is an instance of 
national intrepidity and obedience to the laws, not excelled 
in the purest times of the Roman republick.'" 

We were now dreadfully tormented by musquitoes and 
gnats, particularly at night, when moored [262] to the bank. 
By day, while floating in the middle of the river, they were 
less troublesome. I would recommend it to travellers about 
to descend the Ohio and Mississippi, to provide themselves, 
previous to setting off, with musquetoe curtains, otherwise 
they never can reckon on one night's undisturbed repose, 
while on their journey, during the spring, summer or autumn. 

May 27th. — We proceeded this morning early with the 
other two boats in company, and passing Flour island (so 
named from the number of flour loaded boats which formerly 
were thrown on it by the current and lost) the first two miles 
brought us abreast of the first Chickasaw Bluffs, on the left. 
It is a chff of pale orange coloured clay, rising from a base 
of rocks on the bank of the river, and surmounted by trees. — 
Half a mile below, another similar cliff rises suddenly from 

'" The Chociaws lived in what is now Misxisaippi, south of the moie [mportant 
Chickasaw tribe. Their position between the Creeks, Cherokee. Chickasaw, 
Spamarda, and English led (o much intriguing for their alliance. The custom 
which Cuming here notes is verified by Mississippi historians, and was utiliied 
by the early justices of the country Sec Claiborne, liiiHisippi, p. 505. — En. 

Early Western Travels 

t\-oI. 4 

■ the passer 

the water's edge, the two being connected by a semicircular 
range of smaller ones recedmg from the bank, having a small 
willow bottom in front of them. 

The river retaining its southerly course, floated us in 
another half league, past the beginning of island No. 34 of 
Cramer's Navigator, which is four miles and a half long, 
at the end of which, another large island (not mentioned in 
the Navigator, but probably included in No. 34, from which 
only a narrow channel separates it) begins. Two miles 
from hence a handsome little creek or river, about forty 
yards wide, joins the Mississippi from the N. E. and nearly 
a mile lower is another small creek from the eastward with 
willows at its mouth. 

The second Chickasaw Bluff, which we had seen in a long 
reach down the river ever since we passed Flour island, 
commences at a mUe below the last creek, on the left hand. 
The cliff, of a yellowish brown colour, has fallen in from 
the top of the bluff, which is about one hundred and fifty 
feet high, and immediately after is a cleft or deep fissure, 
through [263] which, a small creek or run enters the river. 
Half a mUe lower down, the foundation of the cliff, formed 
apparently of potter's blue day, assumes the appearance 
of the buttresses of an ancient fortification, projecting to 
support the huge impending yellowish red cliff above, the 
base of the whole next the water being a heap of ruins in 
fantastick and various forms, perpetually tumbling from 
the cliff, which is beautifully streaked with horizontal lines, 
separating the different strata of sand and clay of which it is 

The second bluffs are about two miles long, and form 
the interior of a great bend of the river, which curves from 
S. W. by S. to N. W. where being narrowed to a quarter 
of a mile wide between the bluff and the island, (on which 
the passengers had bestowed the name of Cuming's island) 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 

the current is so rapid and sets so strongly into the bend as 
to require the greatest exertion of the oars to keep the boat 
in the channel. The river then turns a little to the left, 
and keeping a W. by N. course for three or four miles, then 
resumes its general direction, meandering to the southward. 

A mile and a half below the bluffs, island No. 35 com- 
mences, doubling over Cuming's island, whose lower point 
is not in sight, being concealed by No. 35. The view of the 
river and islands from the top of the bluff must be very fine. 

No. 35 is three miles long. From the lower end of this 
island we saw the Third Chickasaw Bluffs bearing east 
about six or seven miles distant, at the end of a vista formed 
by the left hand channel of island No. 36, and appearing to 
be a little higher than the First or Second Bluffs, but without 
any marked particularity at that distance.'" 

The Devil's Race-ground — The Devil's Elbow — Swans — 
Observations on game — Remarkable situation — Enor- 
mous tree — Join other boats — First settlements after 
the wilderness — Chickasaw Bluffs — Fort Pike — Chick- 
asaw Indians — Fort Pickering. 

Rowing into the right hand channel of No. 36, we entered 
the Devil's Race-ground, as the sound is called between the 
island and the main, from the number of snags and sawyers 
in it, and the current setting strongly on the island, which 
renders it necessary to use the oars with continued exertion, 
by dint of which we got safely through this dangerous pas- 
sage of three miles, leaving several newly deserted Indian 
camps on the right. At the end of the DevO's Race-ground 
the river turns from S. W. by W. to N. N. W. and here 

"' The third Chickasaw Bluff is the place where De Solo is said lo have croued 
the Mississippi River. Mere also it is supposed thai La Saile buill Fori Prud'homme 
on his exploration of the river in 1683. The later historic significance was over- 
shadowed by that ol Fourth Chickasaw Bluff.— Ed. 

ago Early Western Travels [\'oi. 4 

opposite a small outlet of twenty yards wide on the left, 
we met a barge under sail, bound up the river. 

After three mUes on the last reach the river turns grad- 
ually with a bend, to its general southerly direction, the bend 
being encircled by a low bank covered with tall cypresses, 
which keep the traveller in constant dread of falling on his 
boat, which in spite of his utmost exertion is forced by an 
irresistible current dose into the bend. The two other 
boats stopped here among some willows on account of a 
breaking short sea raised by a fresh southerly wind. 

Nine miles from the Devil's Race-ground, we came to 
the Devil's Elbow, which is a low point on the left, round 
which the river turns suddenly, from S. W. to S. and from 
that to E. an island being in front to the southward, which 
intercepts the drifts, and fills the river above half channel 
over with snags and sawyers. There was a very lai^ flock 
of swans [265] on the low sandy point of the Elbow. These 
were the first swans we had seen on the river, although they 
are said to abound throughout this long tract which is desti- 
tute of inhabitants. We had been long accustomed to see 
numbers of bitterns and cranes, mostly white as snow, and a 
few grey ones, and some duck and teal sometimes shewed 
themselves, but took care to keep out of gun shot. Travel- 
lers descending the river have but little chance of obtaining 
any game, as its having become so great a thoroughfare, 
has rendered both the four footed, and feathered tribes 
fit for the table so wild, that it is rare that any of them, 
even when seen can be shot, and if one lands for the purpose 
of hunting, the boat must stop, or else he is in danger of 
being left behind, as the current runs never or in no place 
slower than three miles an hour, and mostly four or five. 

The easterly bend is six miles long, and about a mile 
wide, gradually inclining to the south, and on the right 
are eight creeks or outlets of the river, five of t 

of them divided j 

1897-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVest 291 

from each other by narrow slips of land about fifty paces 
wide each, and the other three by slips of one hundred and 
fifty paces. Their general direction from the river is S. 
S. W. and a point rounds the whole way from E. to S. E. — 
This is one of the most remarkable situations on the river. 

Two miles lower we stopped at island No. 40, for the 
night, and moored by some willows at a sand beach, near 
a drift tree, the trunk of which was one hundred and twenty- 
five feet long, and from its thickness where broken towards 
the top, it must have been at least fifty feet more to the 
extremity of the branches, making in the whole the aston- 
ishing length of one hundred and seventy-five feet. Capt. 
Wells with two boats from Steubenville, passed and stopped 
a little below us. 

The Musquitoes as usual plagued us all night, and has- 
tened our departure at four o'clock in the morning. [266] 
Wells's boats were in company, and after floating six miles, 
we overtook two other boats from Steubenville under the 
direction of captain Bell. — The four boats had twelve 
hundred barrels of flour for the New Orleans market. 

This accession to our company served to enliven a little 
the remainder of this dreary and solitary part of the river, 
the sameness of which had began to be irksome. 

In a league more Bell's boats took the right hand channel 
round an archipelago of islands, while we kept to the left 
through Mansfield's channel, which is very narrow and 
meanders among several small islands and willow bars. 

This archipelago which is designated by No. 41 in the 
Navigator, is three miles long. At the end of it we rejomed 
Bell's boats, and passed a settlement pleasantly situated on 
the right, which was the first habitation since Little Prairie 
(one hundred and thirty-two miles.) Here we observed a 
fine stock of horses, cows, and oxen, and half a mOe farther 
we landed in the skiff at Mr. Foy's handsome settlement 

2g2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

and good frame house. Foy was the first settler fourteen 
years ago on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluffs, which are oppo- 
site his present residence, to which he removed eleven years 
ago; since when five families more have settled near him, 
and about half a dozen on the Chickasaw side, just below 
Wolf river. Soon after Foy's first settlement, and very near 
it, the Americans erected a small stoccado fort, named Fort 
Pike, from the major commandant. After the purchase of 
Louisiana by the United States from the Spaniards, Fort 
Pickering was erected two miles lower down at the end of 
the bluffs, and Fort Pike was abandoned. There are two 
stores on each side the river, one of which is kept by Mr. 
Foy, who owns a small barge which he sends occasionally 
for goods to New Orleans, from whence she returns [267] 
generally in forty days, and did so once in thirty. Mrs. Foy 
was very friendly, amongst other civilities, sparing us some 
butter, for which she would accept no payment. This was 
the first instance of disinterestedness we had experienced on 
the banks of the rivers.'" 

Wolf river is the boundary between the state of Tennessee 
and the Mississippi territory. It is not more than about 
forty yards wide. The bank of the Ohio and the Mississippi, 
the whole way from Tennessee river is still owned by the 

'" The first fort known lo have been erected on the Mte of Memphis (Fourth 
Chickasaw Bluff) was that built by Bienville, governor of Louiwana, during hii 
campaigns against the Chickasaws ((735-40) and called by him Fort Assumptiou. 
Alter the expedition of 1740, honever, this was abandoned, the place not being 
fortified until the Spanish commandant Gayoso, in defiance of the authoiity of the 
United Stales, cTo^ed (1794) to the Chickasaw territory and built Fort San Fer- 
nando. Two years later, after Pinckney's treaty was signed, the Sfwniards re- 
luctantly surrendered this outpost, whereupon the American Fort Pike was built 

pjudge Benjamin Foy, of the Arkansas town of Fox's Point, pas a pioneer of 
German descent, whose settlement is said to have been the most healthful, moral, 
and intelligent commimity between the Ohio and Natchez — due to the influence 
of its first settler, and his magisterial powers. Volney, the'French traveller, spent 
the winter of 1805 with Foy in his Arkansas home, — Ed. 

iSoy-rSog] Cuming's Tour to the JVest 293 

Chickasaw nation, who have not yet sold the territorial 

On the point immediately below Mr, Foy's (whose negro 
quarter gives his pleasantly situated settlement the appear- 
ance of a village or hamlet) was formeriy a Spanish fort 
no vestige of which now remains.'" 

Rowing across the river and falling down with the current, 
we landed under Fort Pickering, having passed the Fourth 
Chickasaw Bluffs, which are two miles long, and sixty feet 
perpendicular height. They are cleared at the top to some 
little distance back, and the houses of the settlers are very 
pleasantly situated near the edge of the cliS. 

An Indian was at the landing observing us. He was 
painted in such a manner as to leave us in doubt as to his 
sex until we noticed a bow and arrow in his hand. His 
natural colour was entirely concealed under the bright ver- 
million, the white, and the blue grey, with which he was 
covered, not frightfully, but in such a manner as to mark 
more strongly, a fine set of features on a fine countenance. 
He was drest very fantastically in an old fashioned, large 
figured, high coloured calico shirt — deer skin leggins and 
mockesons, ornamented with beads, and a plume of beau- 
tiful heron's feathers nodding over his forehead from the 
back of his head. 

We ascended to Fort Pickering'" by a stair of one hundred 
and twenty square logs, similar to that at [268] Jefferson- 
ville. There was a trace of fresh blood the whole way up 

"" The ChickAsawa m&inlaJDed thdr righi to the Icttitorj' between the Mississippi 
and the TeDoessee until 1818, wheo commissionets for the Federal Govemmenl 
bought the tract for Sjoo,ooo. The town of Memphis was laid out in the same 
year.— Eo. 

'" This was the fori called Esperanza, where the Tillage of Hopefietd, Arkansas , 
now stands. — Ed. 

*" Fort Pickering (at txA colled Fort Adams) was erected by Captain Guioii 
'on the orders of Wilkinsoa. Meriwether Lewis was for a brief time (1797) in 
command of this post, — Eo. 


Early Western Travels 


the stair, and on arriving at the top, we saw seated or lazfly 
reclining on a green in front of the entrance of the stoccado, 
about fifty Chickasaw warriours, drest each according to 
his notion of finery, and most of them painted in a grotesque 
but not a terrifick manner. Many of them had long feathers 
in the back part of their hair, and several wore breast plates 
formed 'of tin in the shape of a crescent, and had large tin 
rings in their ears. 

On seeing so many Indians and the trace of blood before 
mentioned, an idea started in my imagination that they had 
massacred the garrison, but on advancing a little farther, I was 
agreeably undeceived by seeing a good looking young white 
centinel in the American uniform, with his musquet and fixed 
bayonet, parading before the gate of the fort. He stopped 
us until permission was obtained from the commanding 
officer for our entrance, and in the interim he informed me 
that he was a Frenchman, a native of Paris, that he had 
been a marine under Jerome Bonaparte, when the latter 
commanded a frigate, and that he had deserted from him on 
his arrival in the Chesapeak. We were ushered by a soldier 
to the officers' quarters where we were received by lieut. 
Taylor the commandant, with civility not unmixed with 
a small degree of the pompous stiffness of office.'" He 
however answered pohtely enough a few interrogatories we 
made respecting the Indians. He said they were friendly, 
and made frequent visits to the garrison, but except a few 
of the chiefs on busmess, none of them were ever admitted 
within the stoccado, and that this was a jubilee or gala day, 
on account of their having just received presents from the 
United States' government. They have a large settlement 
about five miles directly inland from the river, but the most 

'■ This was Lieutenant Zachary Taylor, later Ihe twelfth prasidenl of the United 
States. His military commisaion dated from May 6, 
doubtless due to his youth and the unaccustonied novelty of hi 

lis podtion. — Ed. I 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 295 

populous part of the Chickasaw nation is one hundred miles 
distant to the south eastward. 

[269] When we were returning to the boat, one of the 
Indians offered to sell us for a mere trifle, a pair of very 
handsome beaded mockesons, which we were obliged to de- 
cline, from having neglected to bring any money with us. 

Fort Pickering is a small stoccado, commanding from its 
elevated situation not only the river, but also the surround- 
ing country, which however is not yet sufficiently cleared of 
wood to make it tenable against an active enemy. There 
are some small cannon mounted, and several pyramids of 
shot evince its being well supplied with that article. 

A pleasant harbour — Barges from Fort Adams — River St. 
Francois — Big Prairie settlements — Remarkable lake 
and meadow — Settlements of Arkansas and White river 
— The latter broke up by general Wilkinson — Ville 

A MILE below Fort Pickering we passed a pleasantly 
situated settlement on a detached bluff on the left, and from 
thence eight miles lower we had an archipelago of islands 
on the right. We found this passage very good, though the 
Navigator advises keeping to the right of the first and largest 
island, named No. 46. Having passed Council island, four 
miles long, and several willow islands and sand bars, in the 
twenty-seven miles which we floated during the remainder 
of the day. we then at sunset stopped and moored in a little 
eddy under a ptoint on the left, where several stakes drove 
into the strand indicate a well frequented boat harbour. 
We found adjoining the landing, a beautiful little prairie, 
and our being comparatively less troubled than usual with 
gnats [270] and musquitoes, made us congratulate ourselves 
on the situation we had chosen for the night. Next mom- 


Early IVestem Travels 

[Vol. 4 

ing, May 30th, we continued our voyage with charming 

We passed several islands, and some very intricate chan- 
nels, where we were obliged occasionally to work our oars 
with the utmost exertion, to avoid snags, sawyers, and im- 
proper sucks. 

We this day spoke a large barge with some military 
officers on board from Fort Adams, bound to Marietta, with 
another following her, and having floated thirty-two miles, 
we passed the mouth of the river St. Francois on the right, 
but we could not see it on account of the overlapping 
of two willow points, which veil it from passengers on the 

The river St. Francois rises near St. Louis in Upper 
Louisiana, and runs parallel to the Mississippi, between 
three and four hundred miles, between its source and its 
embouchure into that river. 

The tongue of land between the two rivers, is only from 
six to twenty miles wide in that whole distance, is all flat, 
and great part of it liable to inundation in great floods. 
There is a chain of bills along the whole western bank of the 
St. Francois, and in this chain, are the lead mines of St. 
Genevieve, immediately behind that settlement, which 
supply all the states and territories washed by the Ohio 
and the Mississippi, and all their tributary streams, with 
that useful metal. The St. Francois rarely exceeds one 
hundred yards in breadth, its current is gentle, and its 
navigation unimpeded. 

We landed at a fine well opened farm on the right, a mile 
below the mouth of St. Francois, where a handsome two 
story cabin with a piazza, seemed to promise plenty and 
comfort. This is the first settlement below the Chickasaw 
Bluffs, a computed distance of sixty-five mUes. It is owned 
by one Philips from North Carolina, who has lived here six 

i8o7-iSo9l Cuming's Tour to the IVest 297 

years.'" Notwithstanding [271] favourable appearances, 
we could obtain no kind of refreshments here, not even milk, 
they having made cheese in the morning, so we rowed down 
three miles and a half, to Wm. Basset's delightful situation 
on the Big Prairie, where was a large stock of cattle, yet 
we were still disappointed in milk, so we kept on four miles 
and a half to Anthony's, where we obtained milk, sallad, 
and eggs, and spent a pleasant night in a fine harbour, very 
little troubled by musquitoes. 

We had passed Well's and Bell's boats at moorings at 
the Big Prairie, and about an hour after we stopped at 
Anthony's, the South Carolina and Pittsburgh boats arrived 
and made fast a little above us. 

The Big Prairie is a natural savanna of about sixty acres 
open to the river on the right bank. It is covered with a 
fine, rich, short herbage, very proper for sheep. Immedi- 
ately behind it at less than half a mile from the river, is a 
small lake eight or nine miles in circumference, formed in 
the spring and summer by the Mississippi, which in that 
season rising, flows up a small canal or (in the language of 
the country) bayau, and spreads itself over a low prairie. 
As the river falls, the lake discharges its water again by 
the bayau, and becomes a lu.xuriant meadow, covered with 
a tall but nutritive and tender grass. While a lake, it 
abounds in fish of every species natural to the Mississippi, 
and when a meadow, it is capable of feeding innumerable 
herds of cattle. It is then watered by a rivulet which 
descends from some low hills about three miles to the 
westward of the river bank. From its regular annual inun- 
dation, this appears to be a fine situation for rice grounds, 
if the water goes o£E soon enough to allow the rice to ripen. 

'"Sylvanua Phillips later platted and became chid owner of Helena, a town 
named for his daughter, about ten miles below the mouth of St. Francti River. 
Phillips County. Arkansas, takes its name from this pioneer. — Ed. 

Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

There are two settlements joining to Anthony's fronting 
the river, and five or six others at some little distance behind, 
there being in the whole about a dozen families between 
Philips's and a new settlement, [272] three miles below 
Anthony's, a distance of about twelve miles. The inhabi- 
tants are all from Kentucky, except Basset, who is from 
Natchez, and one family from Georgia. The soil here is 
good and the situation pleasant and healthy. The settlers 
have abundance of fine lookmg cattle, but they raise neither 
grain nor cotton, except for their own consumption. They 
would go largely into the latter, which succeeds here equal 
to any other part of the United States, but they want machin- 
ery to clean it, and none of them are sufficiently wealthy 
to procure and erect a cotton gin. 

From hence to Arkansas is seventy mUes, the road cross- 
ing White river at thirty-five."* At the former (Arkansas) 
is a good settlement of French, Americans, and Spaniards, 
who before the cession to the United States, kept there a 
small garrison, and on the banks of White river, sorae 
wealthy settlers had fixed themselves, one of whom had 
thirty negroes, but they were all forced off by general Wil- 
kinson a few years ago, as they had no titles from the United 

■■* Arkansas Post (or Poste &ux Arkansas) was accounied (be oldest white 
Mttlemcnt in the lower Mississippi Valley. Tonty, on his voyage of relief in search 
of La Salle {i6S6), ascended the Arkansas River to a village of a tribe by the same 
name, where he left a detachment of ai men headed by Couture. Thither, the 
fallowing year, came iJie survivors of La Salle's ill-faled Texas colony, and related 
the assassination of their leader. The post was maintained as a trading centre 
and Jesuit mission throughoul the French occupation, and survived an unexpected 
attack by the Chickasaws in 1748. The Jesuits abandoned it as an unfruitful 
field in 1763. During the Spanish occupation, the importance of this post as ft 
trading station increased. Pierre LaclMe, founder of St. Louis, had a branch 
warehouse at Arkansas Post, and died here in 1778. Upon the American occupa- 
tion, dvil government was established (1S04), and it was the capital for the terriiory 
tiolil iSao, when superseded by Little Rock. Arkansas Post was captured by the 
Union forces from the Confederates, in 1B63. Il is now a small town about seventy- 
five miles southeast of Little Rock. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 299 

States. This was bad policy, as the White river lands were 
in such repute, that a great settlement would have been 
formed there ere now. 

May 31st, we proceeded in company with Bell and Wells, 
and to the latter's boats lashed ours, that we might drift 
the faster, from his loaded boats drawing more water, and 
being of course more commanded by the current than our 
light one. 

Seventeen miles below Anthony's, the river banks begin 
to be very low, generally overflowed; the islands also are 
mostly willow islands, of which we passed several in forty 
miles farther, which distance we floated down until sunset, 
when we moored at a low point of willows, and were de- 
voured by musquitoes all night. 

June ist, after floating fourteen miles, and passing several 
islands and sand bars, we passed the mouth [273] of White 
river on the right, which appears more inconsiderable than 
it actually is, by its mouth being almost concealed by wil- 
lows. Seven miles lower down we met a small barge with 
seven hands rowing up; she had come down Arkansas river, 
from the settlement of Arkansas, and was about returning by 
the channel of White river, which communicates with the 
Arkansas by a natural canal, so that we were puzzled to 
understand the steersman, who said he was from Arkansas 
and bound to Arkansas, until he explained it. Eleven miles 
from hence, we had Arkansas river, two hundred yards 
wide, on the right, and Ozark island two miles and a half 
in front below, the Mississippi being about a mile wide. 

The settlement of Arkansas or Ozark is about fifty miles 
above the junction of that river with the Mississippi. It 
consists chiefly of hunters and Indian traders, of course is a 
poor place, as settlers of this description, never look for any 
thing beyond the mere necessaries of life, except whiskey. 
Had the White river settlement been fostered, instead of 

Early Western Travels 


being broken up, Arkansas would have foDowed its exam- 
ple in the cultivation of the lands, and would have beconie 
very soon of considerable importance, 

Ha%TDg passed 02ark island (No. 75) two miles long, 
on the right, we came to a mooring eight miles below, where 
we had our usual torment of musquitoes ail night. 

June 2nd, we proceeded thirty-five miles, tired with the 
perpetual sameness of low banks, willow islands and sand 
bars, we then came to a settlement, the first below Big 
Prairie, from whence it is one hundred and thirty-six miles, 
and just fifteen leagues below Arkansas river. 

This settlement was commenced two months ago by a 
Mens. Malbrock, from Arkansas, who has a large family 
and several negroes. He has named his place Ville Aussipot, 
and he is clearing away [274] with spirit, having already 
opened twelve or fourteen acres. His mode of providing 
meal for his people, was by pounding com in a wooden 
mortar, with a wooden pestle, fixed to a spring sweep. 

The neighbouring lands are all parcelled out and granted 
to settlers, who are to commence directly. There is a fine 
prairie a league inland. The river bank is sufficiently iiigh 
to be secure from inundation, being now six feet above the 
surface of the water, and the soil is very fine. 

We stopped for the night on the right bank, seven miles 
below Mr. Walbrock's. 

Grand lake — Seary's island — Extraordinary effect of the 
power of the current — Musquitoe island — Crow's nest 
island — Humorous anecdote of a Carolinean — A battle 
royal — New settlements — Fine situations — Cuming's 

June 3d, after proceeding three miles, the river was nar- 
rowed by a point of willows on the right to a quart* 

xter of a j 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 301 

mUe wide, and five miles after, it widens gradually to half a 

In the next nineteen miles we passed several islands, 
giving a relief to the eye, by their variety and some fine 

We then passed on the right, the Grand lake, now grown 
up with willows, where the river formerly entered, and en- 
circled a cotton tree island, which still rears itself predomi- 
nant over the surrounding willow marsh. Two miles below, 
the old willow channel returns again, diagonally, to the 
present river bank, on the opposite side of which, on the left, 
the old channel seems to have been continued, there sur- 
rounding [275] another clump of cotton trees, called Seary's 
island, (No. 90) which is about a mile long, and which 
confines the present channel within a limit of a quarter of a 
mile, which contraction shoots the river so strongly against 
the low willow bend of the old channel below, that not being 
able to bear the impetus of the torrent in the present flooded 
state of the river, the tall willows are undermined, and falling 
every moment, dash up the white foam in their fall, and 
sometimes spring up again, as the root reaches the bottom 
of the river, in such a manner as to impress the beholder 
with astonishment. 

Fourteen miles more brought us to island No. 92, where 
we moored for the night. We found abundance of black- 
berries on this island, but in gathering them, we were at- 
tacked by such myriads of musquitoes, generated by a pond 
in the middle, that we named it Musquitoe island. 

June 4th, in eleven miles we arrived at Crow's nest island, 
where invited by the beauty of its appearance, some of us 
landed in the skiS. It is a little narrow island, about a 
hundred and fifty paces long by forty broad. It is sufficiently 
raised above inundation, and is very dry and pleasant, with 
innumerable blackbirds, which have their nests amongst 


Early Western Travels 


the thirty tall cotton wood trees it contains. It is covered 
with brush, through which is an old path from one end to 
the other. A quantity of drift wood lies on its upper end, 
which projecting, forms a fine boat harbour just below it, 
quite out of the current. There are but few musquitoes on 
the dry part, but a low, drowned point, covered with small 
poplars, and extending a hundred yards at the lower end 
swarms with them, and many of the largest size, called 
gannipers. These venemous and troublesome ihsects re- 
mind me of a humorous story I have heard, which I take the 
liberty of introducing here. 

Some genUemen in South Carolina had dined together, 
and while the wine circulated freely after dinner the con- 
versation turned on the quantity of musquitoes generated in 
the rice swamps of that country. One of the gentlemen 
said that those insects never troubled him, and that he 
believed people in general complained more of them than 
they had occasion to do — that for his part he would not 
notice them, were he naked in a rice swamp. Another of 
the company (according to the custom of the country, where 
all arguments terminate in a wager) offered him a con- 
siderable bet that he would not lie quietly on his face, naked, 
in the swamp, a quarter of an hour. The other took him 
up, and all the party immediately adjourned to the place 
fixed on. The gentleman stripped, lay down, and bore with 
the most resolute fortitude the attack of the hostile foe. 
The time had almost expired, and his antagonist fearing he 
must lose his wager, seized a fire brand from one of the 
negro fires that happened to be near, and approaching slyly 
applied it to a fleshy part of his prostrate adversary, who, 
not able to bear the increased pain, clapped his hand on the 

part, jumped up, and cried out "A ganniper by G ." 

He then acknowledged he had lost his wager, by that 
"damned ganniper," and the party returned to the house 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 303 

to renew their libations to Bacchus, and to laugh over the 
comical termination of the bet. 

Crow's nest island is a beautiful little spot, and is about 
a mile from the right bank, and half a mile from the left, and 
only a mile below the commencement of a noble reach of the 
river, which is perfectly straight for nine miles (therefore 
called the Nine mile reach) in a S. S. W. direction, and up- 
wards of a mile wide. 

Eighteen miles from the lower end of the Nine mile 
reach, we came to three new settlements on the left, within 
a mile of each other. The banks here [277] are not more 
than three feet above the present level of the river. Eleven 
miles farther, in an intricate pass between two islands cap- 
tain Wells's inside boat was driven by the current against a 
quantity of drift wood, the shock of which parted her from 
his other boat and mine. She stuck fast, and we continued 
down the sound between the islands about two miles, when 
seeing a convenient place for stopping, we rowed in, and 
made fast in a fine eddy, among willows at the lower point 
of the right hand island, where we were soon after joined by 
Wells with his boat which he had got off again without 

Whiskey having been dealt liberally to the boatmen to 
induce them to exert themselves while the boat was in dan- 
ger, it began to operate by the time they rejoined us, the 
consequence of which was a battle royal, in which some of 
the combatants attempted to gouge each other, but my boat's 
company interfering, separated them, and quelled the dis- 
turbance, after which I delivered them a long lecture on 
that shameful, unmanly, and inhuman practice, condemn- 
ing it in such strong terms, as to almost provoke an attack 
against myself, but I at last succeeded, or thought I suc- 
ceeded, in making them ashamed of themselves. 

The two islands between which we had just floated, are 

304 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

mentioned improperly in the Navigator as one island, which 
is numbered 100. The channel between is very narrow, the 
ship channel in this stage of the water being evidently to 
the right of both, and a small willow island besides to the 
r^ht of them. — The second of the islands is properly No. 


The musquitoes were this night, as usual, insupportable, 
spite of smoke which we used almost to suffocation. 

June 5th, having lashed the boats together again, 
lem loose from their moorings at an early hour, 
and trusted them to the current, but after floating six miles 
we had to use our oars with the utmost exertion, to avoid some 
broken and hanging trees, with a whirling eddy just below 
them, occasioned by a point on the left projecting far into 
a bend on the right, and being re ndere d rapid by the channel 
above being narrowed by island loiTf Inside of these broken 
trees, the canes were burnt, as if with intention to make a 
settlement. The canes or reeds, which grow to an immense 
size on the river banks, had now began to take the place of 
brush or copse wood, but they do not prevent the growth 
of the forest trees, which appear to gain in size the lower 
we descend. 

A mile below the intricate pass, we came to a settlement 
commenced this spring by a Mr. Campbell from Bayau 
Pierre, who has made a good opening. The family which 
had commenced near the whirlpool above, were residing with 
him. The river in general at its greatest height never rises 
more than a foot higher than it was now. It is ten mUes 
from hence to Yazoos river, and twenty to the Walnut hills, 
eighteen below the last three new settlements, and one 
hundred below Ville Aussipot. 

A mile and a half lower, is a beautiful situation on the 
right, partly cleared, with a cabin on it, but no inhabitants. 

'" Noted in the sevenlh edition of the Navigator. — Cbamxk. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


The river trenches from hence E. S. E. and a mile lower is 
another new settlement on the right, from whence is a fine 
reach of the river downwards E. \ S. In the next half 
league, are three more new settlements also on the right, all 
commenced this spring. 

A mile lower is a charming situation for a settlement, at 
present unoccupied. It is opposite island No, 103, and 
continues three miles to a point where the river resumes 
its S. S. W. direction, at the end [279] of that island, which 
is itself a delightful and most eligible situation for an indus- 
trious and tasty farmer. 

There are some settlements opposite the end of the island 
on the right bank, and on the left, opposite, is discernible 
the bed of an old schute of the Mississippi, or rather a 
mouth of the Yazoos, as the low willows which mark this 
old bed join that river two miles above where it enters the 
Mississippi. From my admiration of No. 103, my fellow 
voyagers named it Cuming's island, and indeed I should 
have been tempted to have settled on it, had every thing 
been perfectly convenient for that purpose. 

The Walnut hills and Fort M'Henry — Palmyra — Point 
Pleasant — Big Black — Trent's point — The Grand 
Gulph — Bayau Pierre. 

A MILE below Cuming's island, is a settlement on the right, 
and four others immediately below it, all within a quarter 
of a mile of each other, and all apparently commenced last 
year. Three miles below Cuming's island, we passed the 
mouth of the river Yazoos on the left. It is about two hun- 
dred and fifty yards wide, and affords a fine view up it four 
or five miles. Opposite, on the right, is the fine settlement 
of George Collins, with the Walnut hills in sight over the 
trees at the end of the reach. Three quarters of a mile 


Rarly Weitem Travels 


below Collins's there is another small settlement, from whence 
the Mississippi takes a curve to the N. E. and then again 
turns to the left, where at the end of a short easterly reach, 
we saw over the trees, a cliff of the Walnut hills three miles 
[280] lower down, and soon after, two large, well cleared 
farms, cultivated from the bank to the top of the hills, where 
are seen the earthen ramparts of Fort M'Henry, now aban- 
doned. These hills are about as high as the lower Chicka- 
saw Bluffs, but differ from them by rising gradually with a 
gentle slope, having a most delightful effect on the eye after 
the level banks with which it has been fatigued, since passing 
the Bluffs.'" 

Five miles below the hills, we lost sight of them, having 
passed several new settlements on the right, but none on the 
left below the hills for seven miles, where we observed a 
good large framed house with a piazza. Two miles farther 
we landed at a farm with a good negro quarter, belonging 
to a Mr. Hicks from Tennessee, where we got some milk, 
and returning to our boat, we boarded in the way the barge 
Adventurer, twenty-nine days from New Orleans, bound to 

There are a few new settlements in the neid seven miles, 
when on a point on the left we passed the first farm in 
Palmyra, and rowing strong in to prevent being carried to 
the right of Palmyra island, we stopped and moored at the 

"' Walnut Hills is the site of Vicksburg, which ntis bid out as a town in iSit. 
This lemtory, between 31° and 33° 30' north latitude, was in contention between 
Spain and the United States from the treaty of 1783 until that Icnown as Pinckney's 
treaty in 1795. when Spain consented to recognize the right of the United States to 
the disputed strip. Meanwhile, the local authorities refused to surrender the forts, 
and it was not undl 1798 that a detachment of United States troops took possession 
of Fort Nogales (built on this site in 1789), and changed its name to Fort McHenry, 
in honor of the then secretary of war. This territory was part of the grant of the 
Yaxoo Company, whose frauds caused so much contention over titles in the district. 
See Haskins, ' ' The Yazoo Land Companies,' ' in American Historical Association 
Pafett (New YoA, 1891), v, pp. 39S-437--- Ei>. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


It is about seven years since several families from New 
England commenced this beautiful settlement. The situa- 
tion is almost a peninsula, fonned by a continued bending 
of the river in an extent of four miles, the whole of which 
is cultivated in front, but the clearing extends back only one 
hundred and fifty rods, where is a lake, and some low 
swampy land, always inundated during the summer freshes. 
There are sixteen families, who occupy each a front of only 
forty rods, so that the settlement has the appearance of a 
straggling village. The soil is very fertile, as a proof of 
which, Mrs. Hubbard, to whose house I went for milk, 
informed me that last year she had gathered seventeen 
thousand pounds of cotton in [281] seed, from nine acres, 
which, allowing it to lose about three quarters in cleaning, 
left five hundred pounds of clean <;otton to the acre, which 
is a great excess of produce over the West India or Georgia 
plantations, where an acre rarely yields more than two 
hundred and seventy-five pounds. At this early season the 
com was well advanced, and I observed some in tassel. 

Palmyra is one of the most beautiful settlements in the 
Mississippi Territory, the inhabitants having used all that 
neatness and industry so habitual to the New Englanders. 
They now complain that they have too little land, and several 
of them have appropriated more on the banks of a lake 
about a mile behind the opposite bank of the Mississippi, in 
Louisiana. I think the lake and swamp behind Palmyra 
must render it unhealthy, and the pale sallow countenances 
of the settlers, with their confession that they are annually 
subject to fevers and agues, when the river begins to sub- 
side, confirms me in my opinion. Indeed this remark 
may be applied to the banks of the Mississippi in the whole 
of its long course, between the conflux of the Ohio and the 
Gulph of Mexico. 

June 6th. — We proceeded this morning through the 


Early Western Travels 

f\ol. 4 

channel between Palmyra and Palmyra island, which at 
low water is almost dry. 

The Mississippi has a westerly course past Palmyra, from 
which it crooks gradually to the southward, and then to 
the eastward, so that Point Pleasant in Louisiana, fifteen 
miles by the river below Palmyra, is only two miles distant 
by a road across the swamp from the opposite bank. There 
are some islands in the river in that distance, but few settle- 
ments on either bank, until we came to Point Pleasant, 
from whence downwards the banks gradually become more 
thickly inhabited. 

[282] Let it be remarked that the river is generally from 
half to three quarters of a mile wide, except in such parts 
as I have particularized its breadth. 

Big Black river, which is deep, but only forty yards wide 
at its mouth, after a S. W. course from the Chickasaw 
nation, dischai^es itself into the Mississippi on the left, 
seven miles below Point Pleasant. There are several set- 
tlements on the banks of Big Black, for forty miles above 
its mouth, and a town was laid out on it which has not suc- 
ceeded, and on account of its unhealthy situation, probably 
never wUl.'" A quarter of a mile below Big Black, a ridge 
of hills called the Grand Gulph hills, terminates abruptly 
at a bluff on the left bank. At the base of the bluff, are a 
heap of loose rocks, near which is a quarry of close granite, 
from which some industrious eastern emigrants have cut 
some excellent mill and grindstones. These hills form a 
barrier which turns the river suddenly from the eastern 
course it had held for a few miles above, to a S. W. direction, 
and it is at the same time narrowed by a projecting point 
on the right, called Trent's point, to about a quarter of a 

'" This settlement od the Big Black was made by Connecticut emignints upon a 
grant to General Phineas Lyman (1775), when the region was part of West Florida, 
Several journals detailing the hardships of the colonists are extant, notably that of 
Captain Matthew Phelps. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the JVest 309 

mile wide. The acute angle and the sudden compression 
of the waters of the river, fonn what is called the Grand 
Gulph, immediately below the narrows, making two great 
eddies, between which the true current runs in so narrow a 
limit for about half a mile, that some skill and dexterity are 
necessary to keep a boat in it, and to prevent her being 
sucked into one or the other eddy, in which case, particularly 
in that on the left, she will be carried round in a circle of a 
mile or two, and require the greatest exertions of the oars 
to extricate her. Delay is the only inconvenience attending 
the getting engulphed, as there is no whirlpool of sufficient 
suction to draw down even a skiff. Trent has a good house 
and farm, and a most delightful situation on the right hand 
point, which is as high above common inundation, [283] as 
any other part of the river level banks, but the swamp 
approaching close behind, contracts the farm more than a 
proprietor would wish. 

I may here observe that the banks of the Mississippi form 
a natural dam, barrier or levfee, more or less broad, from 
fifty paces to three or four miles, behind which the land 
slopes to nearly the level of the bed of the river, so that in 
every summer flood, there is a general back inundation, on 
the subsiding of which, so much stagnant water remains, 
as to cause annual attacks of fever and ague, which accounts 
for the sallow complexion of the inhabitants of the banks. 

In the eight miles between the Grand Gulph and Bayau 
Pierre, there are several settlements on the right, and but 
three or four on the left bank of the river, the most conspic- 
uous of which is that of Major Davenport, began about a 
year ago. 

At three, P. M. having cast off from Mr. Wells's boats, 
we rowed into the mouth of Bayau Pierre, up which we 
advanced a quarter of a mile, and then fastened to a willow, 
in the middle of the river. 

3 I o Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

The contrast between our situation now, and while in the 
Mississippi was very striking. From a noble, majestick, 
stream, with a rapid current, meandering past points, islands, 
plantations and wildernesses, and bearing the produce of the 
inland states, in innumerable craft of every kind, to New 
Orleans and the ocean. To find myself suddenly in a deep, 
dark, narrow stagnate piece of water, surrounded closely 
by a forest of tall willows, poplars, and other demi aquatick 
trees, and not a sound to be heard, except the monotonous 
croakings of frogs, interrupted occasionally by the bull like 
roaring of an alligator — the closeness of the woods exclud- 
ing every current of air, and hosts of mosquitoes attack- 
ing one in every [284] quarter. The tout ensemble was so 
gloomy, that a British seaman, one of Wells's boat's crew, 
who had volunteered to assist in getting our boat into the 
bayau, looking round, exclaimed emphatically — 

"And is it here you stop, and is this the country to which 
so many poor ignorant devils remove, to make their for- 
tunes ? — D n my precious eyes if I would not rather 

be at allowance of a mouldy biscuit a day, in any part of 
Old England, or even New York, Pennsylvania, or Mary- 
land, than I would be obliged to live in such a country as 
this two years, to own the finest cotton plantation, and the 
greatest gang of negroes in the territory." 

Commence my tour by land — Bruinsbury — A primitive 
clergyman — Bayau Pierre swamp — Hilly country — 
Plantations — Thunder storm — A benevolent shoe- 
maker — Norris's — Cole's creek — A consequential 
landlord — Greenville ~ Union town — A travelling 

On Monday 22d August, I set out from Bruinsbury on 
horseback, for the purpose of visiting the most improved 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 

parts of the Mississippi territory, and the adjacent part of 
the Spanish province of West Florida. 

Bruinsbury'was the property of judge Bruin,'" until lately, 
that he sold it together with a claim to about three thousand 
acres of the surrounding land to Messrs. Evans and Over- 
aker of Natchez, reserving to himself his house, offices and 

It is a mile below the mouth of bayau Pierre, the banks 
of which being low and swampy, and always annually 
overflowed in the spring, he projected the [285] intended 
town of Bruinsbury, where there was a tolerably high bank 
and a good landing which has only been productive of a 
cotton gin, a tavern, and an overseer's house for Mr. Evan's 
plantation, exclusive of the judge's own dwelling house, 
and it will probably never now become a town notwith- 
standing many town lots were purchased, as Mr. Kvans 
means to plant all the unappropriated lots, preferring the 
produce in cotton to the produce in houses. 

I was accompanied from the judge's by an elderly Pres- 
byterian clergyman, a native of New England, who had 
been a missionary among the Chickasaw or Cherokee 
nations. He was a man of great simplicity of manners, and 
wonderfully ignorant of all established modes. During 
the short lime we rode together, the characteristick feature 
of his country was displayed in the innumerable questions 
he asked me relative to whence I came, where I was going, 
and my objects and intentions, particularly in my present jour- 

'** Judge Peler Biyan Bruin was an Irishman, wbo having come to America 
while yet youag, became a patriot in the Revolution, joined Morgan's riflemen, 
and wu captured at the siege of Quebec. He entered Morgan's New Madrid land 
scheme, but proceeding to Natchez settled as a planter at the mouth of Bayou 
PieiTc, where he was alcalde under the Spanish regime. Upon the organization of 
Mississippi Territory, Bruin was appointed one of the three lerritorial judges, 
which office he held until his resignation in 1810. The site of his plantation Is 
noted as the point where Grant crossed the Mississippi and began his march againtl 
Vicksburg.— Ed. 

%arly Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

ney. I at last discovered a mode of parrying his wearisome 
curiosity, by becoming curious in my turn. This seemed 
to gratify him equally, as it led to a circumstantial account 
of a life as little chequered by incident as can be conceived. 
He had been the scholar of the family, one of the sons of a 
farmer's family in New England being always selected 
for that purpose. He had graduated at college ^ been 
ordained — went to Carolina — kept a school there — was 
appointed by a synod a missionary for the propagation of 
the gospel among the Indians, in which situation for several 
years, he had raised a family, and leaving his eldest children 
to possess and cultivate lands granted him by the Indians, 
he had removed with his wife and his youngest children to 
this territory, where, by keeping a school, preaching aJtemate 
Sundays, at two or three different places, twelve or fourteen 
miles asunder, and cultivating a small cotton plantation, he 
made a very comfortable subsistence. [286] Although I 
could not agree with him with respect to the comfort of a 
subsistence so hardly earned, yet I could not help admiring 
the truth of the old adage, that custom is second nature, and 
always fits the back to the burthen. 

Our first two miles was through the river bottom, the 
most remote part of which from the river, is inundated an- 
nually by the back waters of bayau Pierre, which overflows 
all the neighbouring low lands for forty mOes from its 
mouth, when its current is checked by the rising of the 
Mississippi. On the subsiding of the floods, so much 
water remains stagnant, as to cause the fever and ague to 
be endemick in all the tract of country washed by the bayau 
Pierre, from ten miles above the town of Port Gibson. 

On leaving the swamp we ascended a hill, on the brow 
of which is a charmingly situated plantation owned and 
occupied by a Mr. Smith. The increased elasticity of the 
air, renovated our spirits, and seemed to increase the good 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 3 1 3 

parson's garrulity, A mile of a delightful road through 
open woods on a dry ridge brought us from Mr. Smith's, 
to Mr. Robert Cochran's fine plantation. It was near din- 
ner time, and a thunder cloud rising before us, gave my 
companion a pretext for wishing to stop, but I having de- 
clared before that 1 would not, and now refusing Mr. Coch- 
ran's invitation, who from the stile as we passed told us 
dinner was on the table, the good man good humouredly 
sacrificed his desire to mine, and proceeded with me, by 
which complaisance he got wet to the skin. He only accom- 
panied me another mile, turning off to the left to go to 
Greenville, while I continued my route to the southward 
along the lower Natchez road, which runs nearly parallel 
to the Mississippi, on the ridges behind the river bottoms. 

A thunder cloud which had been threatening at a distance 
for some time before, now began to rise and spread rapidly. 
It was in vain that I put spurs to my [287] horse — I was 
instantly deluged with torrents of rain, accompanied by as 
tremendous thunder and lightning as I ever had before wit- 
nessed, and a heavy gust of wind at the same time, blew down 
several trees in every direction close round me. My horse 
though an old steady traveller, was so affrighted that I could 
not manage him but with great difficulty. Three miles and 
a half through the storm brought me to Glascock's small 
plantation, where I fortified against a chill with a glass of 
gin presented to me by the good lady of the house, who also 
regaled me vrith some fine peaches. The rain soon sub- 
siding, I resumed my journey in my wet clothes, but I had 
scarcely advanced a mile, when another shower forced me 
to take shelter at a small, but pleasantly situated farm, 
rented by a Mr. Hopper from Mr. Cochran. 

The face of the country became now more broken, but 
the soil improved, and the road degenerating to a bridle 
path through the woods, and being hilly, and forked and 


Early Western Travels 


intersected by cattle paths, was both difficult to find and 
disagreeable to travel. A mile from Hopper's, I stopped 
at an old school-house, where I observed a shoemaker at 
work under a shed in front of the cabm, to get my boot 
mended. He was named Ostun, had lately arrived from 
South Carolina with his family, and had made the unoccu- 
pied school-house his temporary abode, until he should find 
an eligible situation for a settlement. He repaired my 
boot, entertained me with his intentions, hopes, and expec- 
tations, regretted he had no shelter to offer me for myself 
and my horse, that he might prevent my going farther that 
night through the rain (which was literally the case, as the 
old little cabin let the water in at almost every part) and 
would accept of nothing for his trouble. It would be un- 
pardonable to neglect noticing the kindness of this plain, 
honest shoemaker, in a country where benevolence is a virtue 
not too much practised. 

[288] A mile from hence, by the advice of my friendly 
shoemaker, I turned to the left, to seek shelter for the night, 
at the hospitable cabin and fine farm of Mr. James Norris, 
half a mile farther, instead of keeping the usual road to the 
right, two miles to Mr. Joseph Calvet's.""' I was well recom- 
pensed for my deviation, by a frank and hearty welcome, a 
pleasant fire, a good supper, an excellent bed, and the intelli- 
gence that I was on the best and plainest road, and the short- 
est by four miles. This neighbourhood consists of half a 
dozen families, chiefly from South Carolina, from which 
state Mr. Norris came a few years ago. I found him fuUy 
deserving the high character Mr. Ostun gave me of him for 
hospitality. He strongly recommended my settling some 
place near, and recommended it to me to purchase, if possi- 
ble, a tract of land owned by Mr. Cochran, near Hopper's. 

"^ Joseph Catvit served as lieutcnanl in Clark's Illinois campaign, and was 
with him at Kaskaskia in 1779. Later going to the Natchez country, Ik b 
a prominent and respected citizen of Mississippi. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVest 315 

August 23d, departing from Mr. Norris's at early dawn, 
the road, which had been opened wide enough for a wagon, 
but now much overgrown by poke and other high weeds, 
(the dew from which as I pressed through them, wet me 
as much as a shower of rain would have done) led me along 
the top of a narrow and very crooked ridge in generally a 
S. E. direction nearly four miles, where coming to three 
forks, I kept the left one which brought me in a mile more 
through some beautiful open woods on a light soil to a small 
com field on the right, with no habitation visible, beyond 
which I crossed up to my horse's knees the North fork of 
Cole's creek, which now was a pretty little, transparent, sandy 
bottomed stream, but after heavy rains it swells suddenly 
and becomes a frightful and deep torrent, sometimes im- 
passible for several days. Turning to the left beyond the 
creek, I had one mile to an old deserted field, now an arid 
plain, affording a very scanty pasture of poor grass to a few 
lean cattle. The distant crowing of a cock [289] advertised 
me of my approach to a settlement, and I soon after came 
to a com field and a hatter's shop, on the banks of the middle 
fork of Cole's creek, a stream in size and appearance similar 
to the North fork. Crossing it, the road led through some 
small plantations on a light thin sandy soil, a mile and a 
half to Greenville, where I put up at Green's tavern and 
breakfasted. My host affected a little consequence, but 
when he understood that I was in search of land to settle 
on, he became more attentive, and persuaded me much, to 
purchase from him, a tract of land in the neighbourhood, 
which he recommended very highly. 

Greenville (or Huntstown, its old name) the capital of 
Jefferson county, is very handsomely situated, on a dry 
sandy plain near the middle branch of Cole's creek. It is 
surrounded at a little distance by small farms and woods, 
which add variety and beauty to its appearance. A stranger 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

would suppose it healthy, but my information respecting 
it was rather the reverse, particularly in the autumnal 
months, when it is subject to bilious disorders. Perhaps 
this may be owing to the excessive heat occasioned by the 
reflection of the sun from the sandy soil, as it is sufficiently 
elevated, and there is no stagnant pond, nor low marsh, 
near it to generate fevers. This is probably one cause of its 
being in a state of decay; another may be the difficulty of 
approaching it during floods in Cole's creek, which happen 
after every rain, and which in a manner insulate it while 
they last. It consists of one wide straight street nearly half 
a mile long, running N. by W. and S. by E. intersected by 
two small cross ones, containing in all forty tolerably good 
houses, many of which are now unoccupied, and offered 
for sale, at little more than a quarter of their cost in build- 
ing. It has a small church for general use of all christian 
sects, a small court-house, a gaol and a pillory, a post- 
office, two stores, two taverns, [290] and an apothecary's 
shop. The town is well watered by wells dug to about 
thirty feet deep.'*" 

Proceeding to the S. S. W. keeping to the right at the 
south end of the town, at one mile I crossed a deep ravine, 
with a spring well and a washing camp in it, overhung by 
a house on the projecting comer of a small plantation, on a 
hill on the left. 

The road was well opened, but hilly, through the woods, 
for two miles farther, when on crossing a water course (now 
dry) and rising a hill, I had a view on the right, over the 
extensive plantation of colonel West,*" who has upwards of 

"' Greenville was laid out as the seal of JeSerson County, in iSoi, being named 
in honor of General Nathaniel Greene, of Revolutionai; fame. When the county- 
seat was removed to Fayette in 1615, Greenville declined in importance, and the 
site is now a cotton-field. — Ed. 

"* Colonel Cato West was a Virginian who mnoved to Georgia at an early 
day, and subsequently left the Holston Valley to join George Rogtrs Clatk 11 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


two hundred acres in one field in cultivation. The soil 
seems very thin, as in the whole neighbourhood of Green- 
ville, but the crop of cotton and com now looked luxuriant, 
from the wetness of the season. 

Two miles farther I passed on the right Parker Cardine's 
delightfully situated plantation, vrith an excellent dwelling 
house, and good apple and peach orchards, with the south 
branch of Cole's creek, winding round on the right below, 
and which I crossed soon after. The soil however is very 
light, and is soon washed off, and worn out, where it has 
been cultivated a few years, on the whole tract between 
Greenville and Natchez. 

The country here is well opened and inhabited to a little 
beyond Uniontown, which is a small village of three or four 
houses in decay, about a mile beyond Cardine's.*" 

I stopped at Uniontovm to jeed my horse, (I make use of 
the active verb jecd, instead of the passive one, to have 
my horse fed, as travellers in this country, who will not take 
the trouble of giving com and fodder to their horses them- 
selves, may expect to have them soon die of famine, although 
they pay extravagantly for food and attendance.) I was 
here joined by a trig looking young man mounted on a mule, 
who requested to accompany me on the road towards Nat- 
chez. [291] In riding along, he entertained me with his 
history. He said his name was Jackson -7 that he was bom 
in London — was bred a painter, and was sent to a rich 
uncle in St. Vincents, when only fourteen years old. That 
aided by his uncle, he had traded among the West India 

tucky. FindiDgtbecuTTcntof the Ohiodifficull to stem, he floated down to Natchez, 
secured a Spanish grant, and became a leading dlizen of early Mississippi. Colonel 
West was Mcrctary of the tciritor]' from iBoi-og, and member of the Constitutional 
Convention in 1S17. — Ed. 

'" Parker CoTTadine was a Mississippian who came thither during the English 
rule, and belonged (o the piartj who opposed Willing and Gsyoso, the American 
and Spanish invaders of the Natcltez district. 

Uniontown is now a small hamlet known as Union Church. — Ed. 


Early fVestem Travels 

\Vo\. 4 

islands, until he was seventeen, when being concerned with 
a son of colonel HafEey, in a contraband adventure to 
Martinique, he lost every thing, and then came to the con- 
tinent, where he had supported himself as an itinerant house 
and landscape painter, in which capacity he had travelled 
over most parts of the United States. Unfortunately for 
the credit of his veracity, he described my old friend colonel 
Henry Haffey, as a native French Creole of Martinique, 
when in reality, he was bom in the North of Ireland, and 
had nothing of the Frenchman, either in manner or charac- 
ter. Besides, having no children himself, he had adopted 
Henry Haffey Gums, a nephew of his wife's. On this dis- 
covery I humoured my companion, and affected to believe 
all he said, which betrayed him into many laughable absurdi- 
ties and contradictions. 

Sulserstown — Washington — Mr. Blennerhasset's — Nat- 
chez — Historical sketch of Mississippi territory — Col. 
Sargeant's — Col. Scott's — Fine country — Mr. Green's. 

The road turning more to the S. W, led us through a 
wood along a high ridge a little broken by hills, descending 
abniptly on each hand at intervals, with only one small 
settlement in the six miles to Sulserstown, which is a village 
of ten small houses, [292] three of which are taverns. After 
passing it, I observed to the N. W. an extensive cotton 
plantation, with a good house in a very picturesque situa- 
tion, occasioned by an insulated hill near it, with a flat plain 
on the top, cultivated in cotton, supported on every side 
by a cliff, clothed with wood, rising abruptly from the culti- 
vated plantation below, which beyond the insulated hill, 
was bounded by a range of broken higher hills, cultivated 
to near the tops, and crowned with woods. 

Sis miles more brought us through a tolerably well in- 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the fVest 319 

habited country, to Washington, the capital of the territory, 
where we stopped at Hill's tavern. — This tavern (as I 
find is the custom in this country) is kept in a front building 
by Mr. Hill, assisted by some negro servants, while Mrs. 
Hill and her daughters live in a detached building in the 
rear, where I was received by them kindly, in remembrance 
of their having descended the Ohio and Mississippi in my 
boat with me. 

Before supper I walked through the town, in which I 
counted thirty scattering houses, including one store, one 
apothecary's shop, three taverns and a gaol, all in one street 
on the Natchez road. The dress of some ladies I met in my 
ramble was tasty and rather rich. Water is well supplied 
by wells about forty feet deep, and about a quarter of a mile 
from the east end is a delightful spring, near the bank of St. 
Catherine's creek, where is a hot and cold bath — the price 
of bathing is three eighths of a dollar. Wine, liquors, and 
spirits are sold — and I found three or four companies of 
males and females, seated in the shade of some spreading 
forest trees, enjoying the cool transparent water, either 
pure or mixed to their taste. I was informed that this was a 
fashionable resort of the neighbouring country, for several 
miles round, and from Natchez, between which city [293] 
and Washington a stage coach plies, arriving here every 
evening and departing every morning. 

Hearing a drum beat, on enquiry, I was informed, that it 
was the evening roll call of three or four companies of foot, 
at a barrack a little beyond the baths."* 

Govemour Williams has a plantation adjoining the town, 
and resides in a neat cottage upon it. 

"" The seal of goTcnuneDt for Misaisaippi Terriloiy wss removed from Natchez 
to Washington in iSos. Governor Claiborne was authorized to purchase land for 
a cantonment, and bairacka, which was called Fort Dearborn. For an interesting 
description of Washington at an eariy day, see Claiborne, Mittitsifpi, pp. 95ft- 
>6o.— Ed. 

Early Western Travels 


Wednesday 24th August. — After a sleepless night, I 
arose early and found it raining, so I breakfasted, and 
awaited until ten o'clock, when it clearing up a little, I 
rode three miles in a southerly direction deviating a little 
to the right of the main road, to a farm rented from Mr. 
Forman by Mr. Blennerhasset, at whose hospitable dwelling, 
I was received by Mr. B. and his accomplished and amiable 
lady with the utmost kindness and politeness.'" I could not 
help contrasting their present temporary residence in a de- 
cayed cabin, with their splendid and tasty habitation on the 
Ohio. Blest however in each other, with kindred souls and 
similar tastes — possessing a noble library, and still a 
sufficiency left after all their losses, with a well regulated 
but liberal economy, for all the necessaries, and many of 
the indulgencies of life. 

After dinner I tore myself with difficulty from the social 
and intellectual feast I was enjoying, and proceeding on my 
journey through a woody country, and a light soil, I arrived 
at Natchez a little before dark. 

I was much struck with the similarity of Natchez to many 
of the smaller West India towns, particularly St. Johns 
Antigua, though not near so large as it. The houses all 
with balconies and piazzas — some merchants' stores — 
several little shops kept by free mulattoes, and French 
and Spanish Creoles — the great mixture of colour of the 
people in the streets, and many other circumstances, with 
the aid of a little fancy to heighten the illusion, might have 

"• General Ezekiel Forman, of New Jeisey, secured a Spanish grant and mi- 
grated to the Natchez country in 1789-90. See bis nephew's journal, Narrative 
oj a Joumty dmm Hit Ohio and MitsisHppi (edited by Lyman C. Draper; Cinda- 
nati, 1888). 

Blennerhasset! retired to Mississippi after the Richmond trial, and remained 
at this plantation, which be called LaCachc, until iSig. He waa active in public 
affairs, serving on the committee of safely in 1813. He removed to Montreal, and 
later returned to England, dying at Guernsey in indigent circumstances in iSji. 
Attempts were made in 184a to secure restitution tor Mis. Blennerhassett from 
Congress, but she died before this could be accomplished. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 321 

made one [294] suppose, in the spirit of the Arabian Knight's 
Entertainments, that by some magick power, I had been 
suddenly transported to one of those scenes of my youthful 
wanderings. When the illusion was almost formed, a 
company of Indians meeting me in the street dispelled it, 
so bidding adieu to the romance of the fancy, I sat down 
to supper at Mickie's tavern, or hotel, by which appellation 
it is dignified. 

On Thursday the 25th, I arose early, and sauntered to 
the market-house on a common in front of the town, where 
meat, fish and vegetables were sold by a motley mixture of 
Americans, French and Spanish Creoles, Mulattoes and 
negroes. There seemed to be a sufficiency of necessaries for 
so small a town, and the price of butcher's meat, and fish 
was reasonable, while vegetables, milk and butter were 
extravagantly dear. 

Natchez, in latitude 31° 33' N. — longitude 91" 29' W. of 
Greenwich, contains between eighty and one hundred dwell- 
ing houses, as nearly as I could enumerate them. It is situ- 
ated on a very broken and hilly ground, but notwithstanding 
the irregularity and inequality of the surface, the streets are 
marked out at right angles, which makes them almost im- 
passible in bad weather, except Market street and Front 
street which are levelled as much as the ground will permit. 
A small plain of a hundred and fifty yards wide in front of 
the town rising gradually to the edge of the high cliff or bluff 
which overhangs the river, veils the view of that interesting 
object from the inhabitants, but at the same time contributes 
to defend the town from the noxious vapours generated in the 
swamps immediately on the river banks, yet not so effectually 
as to prevent its being sometimes subject to fevers and 
agues, especially from July to October inclusive, when few 
strangers escape a seasoning, as it is called, which frequently 
proves mortal. The surrounding country at a little distance 
[295] from the Mississippi, is as healthy as most other 


Eariy Western Travels 

[Vol 4 

countries in the same parallel of latitude. The landing, 
where are a few houses immediately under the bluff, is par- 
ticularly fatal to the crews of the Ohio and Kentucky boats, 
who happen to be delayed there during the sickly season- 
Though Natchez is dignified with the name of a city, 
it is nevertheless but a small town. It is however a place of 
considerable importance in consequence of its being the 
principal emporium of the commerce of the territory, and 
of its having been so long the seat of government, under 
the French, English, and Spaniards, which caused all the 
lands in the vicinity to be cultivated and settled, while 
those more remote were neglected, though in general a 
much better soil. There is a Roman Catholick church, 
which is an old wooden building in decay, and there is a 
brick meeting-house for either Presbyterians or Anabaptists, 
I am not sure which. These, and an old hotel de ville, or 
court-house, are the only publick buildings the city boasts, 
except it be an old hospital, now fitting up as a theatre for a 
private dramatick society. Several of the houses are new 
and very good, mostly of wood, and I am informed many 
(more than half) have been added within the last four or 
five years. Fort Penmure,'*" on the edge of the bluff is now 
in ruins, but the situation, and the extent of the old ram- 
parts, prove it to have been a post of considerable conse- 
quence. It effectually commands the river, without being 
commanded itself, and the view from it is very extensive, 
particularly over the flat swamps of Louisiana, on the oppo- 
site side of the Mississippi. 

*" Fort Panmure was the British name of the Natchee Post, which had been 
called Fort Rosalie by the French. The English garrison found the latter in a 
luinoua a>nditioD when sent to talie possession in 1764. Fort Panmure was the 
scene of a struggle between English Tories and American sympathizers in 177S-79. 
See Claiborne, Mitsissippi, pp. 117-134. The historical account of Natchet 
given by Cuming, is substantially correct. See F. A. Michauz's Travels, vol. 
iii of this series, p. 254, note 53.— Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


The first pennanent settlement on the Mississippi was 
made in 1712, and notwithstanding many misfortunes, 
particularly the failure of the celebrated Mississippi com- 
pany, founded by John [296] Law, during the regency of 
the duke of Orleans, the settlements extended in 1727 to 
Natchez, and a fort was erected there. In 1731, the In- 
dians, disgusted with the tyranny and cruelty of the French 
colonists, massacred most of them, for which, in the follow- 
ing year, the French took ample vengeance, almost extirpa- 
ting the whole Natchez race. The few who escaped took 
refuge amongst their neighbours the Choctaws, where be- 
coming naturalized, they soon lost theu- original name. 
The French kept possession of the country until 1763, when 
it was ceded to the British. It continued under the British 
government until 1779, when it was surrendered by colonel 
Dickson the commander of the British troops at Baton 
Rouge, to the Spaniards under Don Bemando de Galvez. 
In 1 798, in consequence of arrangements between the United 
States and the government of Spain, the latter gave up all 
claim to the country east of the Mississippi to the northward 
of the 31st degree of north latitude, in favour of the former, 
who erected it into a territorial government, under the name 
of the Mississippi territory. 

Proceeding to the southward from Natchez, I passed 
some tasty cottages, and deviating a little to the right of the 
main road, in two short miles I came to colonel (late gov- 
emour) Sergeant's handsome brick house."* The road led 

**' Wmlhrop Saxgenl was born at Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1753, and served 
under General Knox throughout the Revolution. Shortly after he became inter- 
eatcd in the Ohio Company of Associates, and in 1786 was appointed surveyor 
tfacrefor. Upon the organization of Northwest Territory (1787), Sargent was ap- 
pointed secretary, and continued in this office until chosen governor of the newly- 
organized Territory of Mississippi (1798). Sargent was a man of ability, a scholar, 
and e poet; but being a Federalist and of New England austerity, he was unpopulir 
among his Democratic neighbors, and waa removed by Jefferson in 1801. 
died in New Orleans in iSjo. — Ed. 


324 Early Western Travels |>'ol. 4 

through a double swinging gate into a spacious lawn, which 
the colonel has formed in the rear of the house, the chief 
ornament of which was a fine flock of sheep. The appear- 
ance of this plantation bespoke more taste and convenience 
than I had yet observed in the territory. Riding half a mile 
through the lawn, I left it by a similar gate to the first, and 
a quarter of a mile more of an open wood brought me to 
colonel Wm. Scott's, to whom I had a letter of introduc- 

[297] He received me according to his usual custom with 
kindness and hospitality, and presented me to his lady 
and to govemour Williams, with whom he had been sitting 
at breakfast. I was invited to join the breakfast party, 
and I spent an hour very agreeably. The colonel had been 
a captain in the United States' army under general Wayne, 
and on his arrival in this country, he married a lively, genteel 
French woman with a handsome fortune. He quitted the 
army, and joining the militia, he is now adjutant general 
of the territory. He is a fine, dashing, spirited and friendly 
Irishnmn, and has only to be known to be esteemed."' 

I forbear mentioning my opinion of the govemour, as the 
curse of party pervades this territory, as well as every other 
part of the United States, and any opinion of a pubUck 
character, would not fail to ofliend one or the other party. 

After resisting a pressing invitation to prolong my visit, 
I proceeded on my journey, passing several fine and well 
cultivated plantations, the most conspicuous of which were 
Mr. Burling's, Sir Wm. Dunbar's, Mr. Poindexter's and 

'" Colonel Willifttn Scoll enlisted fifom Maryland, being at first ensign (1795)- 
then lieutenant in the third infantry, and captain (iSoa). Two years later, he was 
honorably discharged and retired to Mississippi. He served as lieutenant-coloncL 
of the Thirty-sixth Infantry in the War of 1S11-15. 

Governor Robert Williams waa a native of North Carolina, and had served in 
Congress and on a commission for adjusting Mississippi land-titles before he nas 
appointed as governor of the territory (1S04). The chief episode of his I 
(1805-09) was the apprehension of Burr. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 325 

Mr. Abner Green's.'"* I had now come twelve miles, and 
it being excessively hot, I stopped at Mr. Green's to request 
some fodder for my horse, to which Mr. Green obligingly 
added an invitation to dinner to myself. After dinner, Mr. 
Green invited me to look at his garden, which was very 
spacious, and well stocked with useful vegetables, and un- 
derstanding that I had been in the West Indian islands, he 
made me observe some ginger in a thriving state, and the 
cullaloo or Indian kail, also some very fine plants of Guinea 
grass, which he proposes propagating. There was some 

)M "phese were among the most prominent of early Mississippians. 

Sir William Dunbar was a Scotchman, who came to America because of failing 
health, and embarked in the Indian trade at Foit Pitt in 1771. Two yeats later 
he removed to West Florida, and shortly after settled at Natchez. Under the Span- 
ish r^me he was chief surveyor, and in 1797 boundary commissioDer for that 
power. He was appointed judge of the first territorial court in 1798. Dunbar 
was a successful planter, and had the first screw-press for cotton, in Mississippi- 
He also had scientific attainments, and was a member of the American Philosophical 
Society. He died in iSlo, leaving many descendants. 

Abnei Green belonged to one of the most prominent Mississippi families. He 
was brother of Colonel Thomas Green, first terrilorial delegate; his father was a 
Virginian who came to Natchez under the Spanish r^me, and was influential in 
having Georgia assert its authority over this territory. Abner Green was register 
of probates under the Bourbon County, Georgia, act, and treasurer-general for the 
territory in iSoi, He married a daughter of Colonel Anthony Hutchins. and was 
regarded as a model planter. 

George Poindextcr, one of the most able of Mississippi politidans, was regarded 
by his enemies as one of the most unscrupulous. A native of Virginia, he came to 
Mississippi in i8o». His first public office was that of attorney-general for the 
territory, as such conducting the prosecution of Aaron Burr. Having killed 
Abijah Hunt, a political enemy, in a duel, he was nevertheless exonerated by being 
chosen one of the territorial judges, which office he conducted with fairness and 
ability. In the War of tStj-ij, he served as aide to Jackson at New Orleans, and 
became one of the general's warm partisans, defending him in Congress in (819. 
Poindeiter was a member of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1817, and 
the first representative in Congress for the new state (1S18-30}. Upon bis return 
home, be was elected governor of the State after a campaign of great personal bitter- 
ness, but was defeated in an attempt to secure a second term. In 1830, Poindeiter 
again entered politics, being chosen United States senator, in which position he 
attacked Jackson with as much spirit as he had formerly defended him. Jackson 
even accused Poindexter of having instigated an attempt upon his life, but after- 
wards was convinced of his error. Poindexter retired from public life in 1835, 
but for twenty years longer continued a career of dissipation and excess. — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. 4 

Guinea corn, and another kind of com with a similar stalk 
and blades, but bearing its seed in a large dose knob, at 
the extreme top of the stalk- That beautiful shrub the 
pomegranate, which, though scarce, seems natural [298] to 
this soil and climate, was in great perfection, and several 
beds were occupied by very fine strawberry plants, which 
are also scarce in this country. 

An Indian monument — Col. Hutchins — Second creek — 
The Homochito — Buffaloe creek — Long iminhabited 
wilderness — Remark on overseers — Wilkinsonburg and 
Fort Adams — An old friend — Mr. Carey's — Capt. 
Sample's — Pinckneyville. 

Leaving Mr. Green's, I soon after past Mrs. Hutchins's 
on the left, in whose cotton field, at some distance from the 
road I observed an Indian mound or barrow, similar to those 
which one so often meets with in the vicinity of the Ohio, 
and of which I have been informed great numbers are in 
this country. Mrs. Hutchins is the widow of a col. Hutchins, 
who was a half pay British officer, had considerable landed 
proj)erty, was very hospitable, and had great influence in 
the political business of the territory, which by the manner 
he used it, acquired him the character of an ambitious 

This and all the neighbouring plantations are called the 
Second creek settlement from a rivulet of that name which 

"' Colonel Anthony Hutchins, of New Jersey, joined the Sixtieth Infantry and 
served under General Amherst in the French and Indian War. Retired on half- 
pay, he settled first in North Carolina, then removed to Natchez in 1773, farming 
a plantation twelve miles therefrom, at White Apple vills^. During the Rcvdu- 
tion be was a persistent Tory, and headed the party which recaptured Fort Psn- 
murc in 17S1. Upon the advance of the Spaniards, Hutchios escaped through the 
woods to Savannah, going thence to London. He was only permitted to return 
after several years of exile. Upon the installation of American government, 
Hutchios promptly toot the oath of allegiance, dying shortly after (1S04) at an 
advanced age. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 327 

flows from the eastward towards the Mississippi. The soil 
is much superiour to that near Natchez, and the farms are 
generally the best improved in the territory. I observed 
a very handsome coach under a shed near Mrs. Hutchins's 
cottage, which was the only one I had seen in this country. 

The road led from hence southerly through pleasant 
open woods, with very few plantations in sight, [299] eight 
miles, to Greaton's tavern on the right bank of the Homochi- 
to. After putting up my horse, I joined Mr. Greaton in 
fishing, he providing me with a rod and line — I was un- 
successful, but he caught some delicate catfish, and four 
fine carp, about a pound and a half each. A thunder 
shower interrupting our sport, we returned to the house, 
supped on our fish, coffee, and bread and butter, and retired 
for the night. 

The Homochito is a beautiful little river of clear water, 
and a sandy bottom, here about fifty yards wide. It falls 
into the Mississippi ten or twelve miles from hence, on its 
banks ten miles higher up, is a fine thriving settlement, 
called the Jersey settlement, from the hihabitants having 
generally emigrated from that state; and 10 miles still higher 
or more north easterly, the lake road from Orleans to 
Natchez crosses it. 

Friday 26th, I was ferried across the Homochito by an 
old Spaniard, in a flat which he hauled over by a rope lead- 
ing through two rollers fixed on the gunwale. I found the 
country hilly, but the road was pleasant, and the soil rich, 
though thinly inhabited. I had eight miles to Mrs. Crosby's, 
a remarkably fat widow, who keeps a tavern and receives 
the toll of a bridge over Buffaloe creek, which is a deep, 
slow and muddy little river, joining the Mississippi, six or 
seven miles from hence, through a long and extensive swamp. 
My fat landlady made breakfast for me, while my horse 
was feeding, after which I pursued my way to the left of 

328 Early ff^estem Travels [V'ol. 4 

the swamp, mounting into a hilly country, covered with a 
thick cane brake, through which a wagon road is cut in a 
S. W. direction eleven miles, without settlement, house or 
water, in all that distance, so that it is both fatiguing and 

I emerged from the hills and canes over a small creek, 
at a fine plantation of a Mr. Percy. My horse being fatigued, 
I stopped to request a little [300] fodder for him, which was 
accorded with a very ill grace by the overseer, the proprietor 
residing at Washington. And here I will remark that the 
overseers of plantations in this whole territory, are for the 
most part a rough, unpohshed, uncouth class of people, 
which perhaps proceeds from their being made use of 
literally as negro drivers, to keep those unfortunate wretches 
to their work in the field, and to correct them for all real 
or supposed ofEences. — They do this with their own hands, 
and not as in the sugar colonies, by one of the slaves them- 
selves, appointed for that purpose and called the driver. 
This renders them callous to every thmg like sentiment or 
feeling, and gives them a roughness and abruptness in 
their maimers, which is extremely disagreeable and dis- 

A good road with a ridge of hills called Loftus's heights 
on the left, and the swamp which commenced at Buffaloe 
creek on the right, leads from hence to Fort Adams in a dis- 
tance of six miles, there being a few plantations on both 
sides of the road, those on the right joining the swamp, and 
the left hand ones bemg on the broken land beyond the 
cliffs and hills."' 

Fort Adams or Wilkinsonburg is a poor Uttle village of a 

*" Loftui Heights was so named from Ihe Indian attack made therefrom in 
1764, upon the British troops under Major Loftus, who were going to secure the 
nUnois countiy. The detachment was obliged to retire to New Orleans. Fort 
AdsDU was built by the orders of Wilkinson in 1 79S, and the American troa[>s Erom 
Natchez and Vickiburg removed tMther. — Ed. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 329 

dozen houses, most of them in decay, hemmed in between 
the heights and the river. The fort from whence it derives 
its first name, is situated on a bluff overhanging the river, 
at the extremity of the ridge of Loftus's heights. It is about 
one hundred feet above the ordinary level of the Mississippi, 
which is not more than three hundred yards wide here, so 
that the fort completely commands it, with several small 
brass cannon and two small brass howitzers mounted "en 
barbette.' ' The fort which is faced with brick, has only a 
level superficies large enough for one bastion, with a small 
barrack inside, the [301] whole of which is commanded by a 
block-house a hundred and fifty feet higher, on the sharp 
peak of a very steep hill, which in time of war might serve as a 
look out, as well as a post, as it commands a most extensive 
view over the surroimding wOdemess of forest, as well as the 
meanders of the river for several miles. 

The ridge of hills near Natchez, bounds the prospect to 
the northward, but there is nothing for the eye to rest on, 
not even a plantation to be seen, as they are all veiled by 
the surrounding forests, the gloom of which is heightened 
by the idea, that a principal portion of the vast tract in 
sight, is nothing but an unwholesome swamp, which will 
cost thousands of lives before it can ever be made habitaWe, 
or fit for cultivation. This is experienced in a great degree 
at Fort Adams, which on account of its insalubrity, is 
deserted by its garrison, a subaltern with a platoon being 
left in it, to guard the pass, and prevent smuggling — while 
the garrison inhabits a pleasant cantonment in the hills 
towards Pinckneyville, about five miles distant. A path 
descends gradually from the block-house to the town, along 
a very narrow ridge, about the middle of which is the burying 
place of the garrison, the graves of the officers being con- 
spicuous by head stones with the name, rank, and time of 
decease. Two or three are interred here who have been shot 

33° Early Western Travels fV'ol. 4 

in duels, to which barbarous custom they are much addicted 
in the American army. 

There are two gun boats moored a little above the fort, 
which, with the long view up the river, and the flat country 
on the opposite bank put me in mind of the river Shannon 
at Tarbet in Ireland; to which however it is far inferiour 
in breadth as well as in magnificence, and variety of scenery. 
The unhealthiness of its scite is probably the reason that 
[302] Wilkinsonburg does not prosper, notwithstanding it 
is the capital of a county, and is a post town. 

I put up at Marsalis's tavern, where my old and esteemed 

friend, doctor H , lodged. I found him confined by a 

severe attack of the dysentery, which however did not 
prevent his giving me a cordial and a joyous welcome. 
Notwithstanding the poverty of the place, Marsalis gave 
us a tolerably good supper, according to the custom of the 
country, of coffee, bread and butter, sliced bacon, and a 
fine dish of gaspar-goo, the best fish I had yet tasted of the 
produce of the Mississippi. 

Saturday, 27th — My horse being foundered, doctor H 

accommodated me with another very good one, and after 
breakfast I proceeded on a good road to the south-eastward, 
over the most broken and hilly country I had yet seen in the 
territory, it leading sometimes along the brink of some high 
and steep precipices, but is kept in good order by the troops 
encamped in the neighbourhood. At four miles I kept 
to the left towards Pinckneyville, instead of turning to the 
right to the camp, at a mile's distance, as I intended to 
visit it on my return. I passed two small plantations near 
the forks of the road, they being the only ones between 
Wilkinsonburg and Mr. Carey's, which was three miles 
farther, the country becoming gradually less broken. 

Mr. Carey, to whom I had a letter from H , received 

me with cordial hospitality, but there was nothing strange 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


in that, he being a native of Erin, that country so noted for 
this now unfashionable virtue.'" 

[303] After dinner I went half a mile farther to Capt. 
Robert Semple's, brother to my friend Steele Semple, Esq. 
of Pittsburgh. He was formerly a captain in the United 
States' army, and is now owner of a very fine plantation, 
where he resides, living in a style of well regulated, gentle- 
manly taste and liberality. — From him and his amiable 
lady I experienced a most friendly reception, and remaining 
with them until next morning (Sunday, 28th) I proceeded 
on my route, going back to Mr. Carey's. Keeping his 
plantation on the left, two miles S. S. E. brought me to 
Pinckneyville. On arriving at Mr. Carey's yesterday, I 
had got out of the broken hilly country, and I was now in 
one of alternate plains and gently sloping hills affording fine 
situations for plantations, mostly occupied. 

Pinckneyville is a straggling village of ten houses, mostly 
in decay, and some of them uninhabited. It is situated 
on a pleasant sloping plain, and the surrounding country 
is comparatively well cultivated. It has a little church, a 
tavern, a store and a post-office. 

Enter West Florida — Fine country — Don Juan O'Connor 

— A whimsical egarement — Capt. Percy — Bayau Sarah 

— Doctor Flowers — Don Thomas Estwar — Mr. Per- 
rie's — Thompson's creek — Bad road — Beautiful plain 

— Montesano. 

A MILE and a half farther, in a S. E. direction, the road 
crossed the demarkation line, which divides [304] the Mis- 

'" Ciirraa, in one of his celebrated speeches, thus beautifully described tbe 
native hospitality oE his country: 

' ' The hospitality of other countries is a matter of necessity, or convention ; in sav- 
age nations, of the first; in polished, of the latter: but the hospitality of an Irishman 
is not the running account of posltd and Udgtred courtesies, as in other countries; 
it springs like all his other qualities, his faults, his virtues, directly from the heart. 
The heart of an Irishman is by nature bold, and he confides; it is tender, and he 
loves; it is generous, and he gives; it is social, and be is hospitable.' ' — Ckauex. 

332 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

sissippi territory from the Spanish province of West Florida, 
at the first house from Pinckneyville, and the last subject 
to the United States. The line runs along the parallel of 
the 31st degree of north latitude. It was cut forty 
feet wide, but it is now scarcely perceptible, from the rapid 
growth of trees and shrubs, in the short space of seven 
or eight years since it was opened, under the direction of 
Mr. Ellicot, commissioner on the part of the United States, 
and major Minor on the part of Spain.*" 

I was now in the district of New Feliciana, in the Spanish 
province of West Florida. A wagon road through a 
naturally fine country, with some small plantations at dis- 
tances from half a mile to a mile, brought me in eight miles 
to Don Juan O'Connor's. This respectable old gentle- 
man, to whom I carried a letter of introduction, has a fine 

"* Andrew Ellicott was an American engineer of nole. Bom in Pennsylvania 
(1754) of Quaker ancestry, he passed his early life in Maryland, devoting himself 
especially to mathematical studies. In Baltimore and Philadelphia he became a 
friend of Washington and Franhlin; and at their suggestion was employed to define 
the boimdaiy between Virginia and Pcnnsylvama, and later that between New 
York and Pennsylvania. la 1791, he was appointed surveyor-generaJ of the 
United Slates. He also asMsled in laying out the national capital. While acting 
as commisaioncT for adjusting the southern boundary of the United States with 
Spain, according to the treaty of 1795. EUicott encountered serious diplomatic 
difficulties, and alienated a party of the English inhabitants of the Natchez dis- 
trict. Claiborne's Bnimadvetsioiis, however, in his Mississippi, seem hardly 
borne out by the facts. In iSoB, Ellicott was appointed secretary of the Pennsyl- 
vania land-oflSce; and four years later, professor of mathematics at West Point, 
where he died in rSio. His journal during his employment in the Southwest, is 
valuable as a record of conditions in that region. 

Stephen Minor was a Pennsylvanian by Inrth, educated at Princeton, and early 
came west to explore the new country. At St. Louis be was persuaded to convey 
some dispatches to the govemor-generaJ of Louisiana at New Orleans, who. fancying 
the frank but politic young American, ofiered him a position to the Spanish army. 
Minor served the Spaniards with address and fidelity. Taking no advantage of 
his portion, he remained loyal to Spain, at the same time becoming popular with 
the English-speaking inhatntants of the Natchez district, where he was stationed. 
He was finally promoted to the governorship of Natchez, which he retained until 
its surrender to the United States (1798), when he became an American dtizen, and 
died at Concord, Mississippi. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 333 

estate, and is building a very large and commodious house, 
which, when finished, he intends for the residence of his 
family now in Philadelphia. He is held in great estimation 
by the government, and throughout the country, where he 
many years exercised the office of Alcalde, or chief magis- 
trate of the district; but resigning it on account of his in- 
creasing age, he has been succeeded by his neighbour, 
Capt. Robert Percy, formerly of the British navy, a gentle- 
man perfectly well qualified to execute the office with be- 
coming dignity and propriety. 

I remamed three days with Mr. O'Connor, at his friendly 
solicitation, visited by, and visiting the neighbouring gentry 
of this rich and hospitable country, during which time a 
laughable incident happened. 

Accompanying Mr. O'Connor to Capt. Percy's, a dis- 
tance of only two miles, through the lands of the two gen- 
tlemen, Mr. O'C. conducted me through the woods by a 
bridle path, instead of keeping the main road, for the pur- 
pose of seeing some of his people, who were sawing timber. 
After riding in different [305] directions for some time 
without finding them, he at last gave up the attempt, saying 
we would now take a path which would soon bring us into 
the road. The sun being overcast, the old gentleman soon 
lost his direction in a labyrinth of cattle paths, by which 
we got involved sometimes in a thick cane brake, and 
sometimes in a copse of briars. I saw he was astray, but 
without seeming to perceive it, I followed him, chattering 
on indifferent subjects. At last despair of extricating us 
conquermg his shame of acknowledging himself lost in his 
own woods — he suddenly exclaimed, "Where is your 
pocket compass ? " — I answered that accompanying him 
so short a distance on his own ground, I had not thought it 
necessary to bring it. "You should always carry it in this 
country," exclaimed he, a little pettishly. "What course 

334 Early fVestem Travelt [Voi. 4 

do you wish to go?" said I — "N. E." replied he, "ought 
to bring us into the main road." — "Well," said I, 
"let us leave the mossy side of the trees on our left 

Following my advice, we soon heard some one at a dis- 
tance singing loudly. We took the direction of the voice, 
and soon afterwards found the wagon road, after wandering 
above two hours in search of it. Mr. O'Connor's relating 
the story good humouredly at Capt. Percy's did not pre- 
vent his being rallied a good deal about it, and it spreading, 
became a standing subject of laugh against him, among 
his surrounding friends. The day after this, as I was 
accompanying Mr. O'C. and some of his neighbours to a 
militia muster, my horse took fright, at my suddenly raising 
my umbrella during a shower, and plunging violently, he 
threw me on my head, but without doing me any other injury 
than dirtying me all over. 

On Thursday, ist September, I left Mr. O'Connor's after 
breakfast, with the intention of pursuing my journey, but 
calling at Capt. Percy's, he said it was his birth day, and 
that I must spend it with him, [306] and that he had sent 
for Mr. O'C. for the same purpose. 

This was truly an agreeable day to me, it being devoted 
to social converse without ceremony, while the well regulated 
and liberal domestick arrangements of the amiable and well 
informed lady of our friendly host, recalled to my mind 
the elegant refinement I had so often enjoyed in the society 
of her fair countrywomen, during my residence in Scot- 
land. To her engaging native manners, Mrs. Percy adds 
the advantages of a long residence in London, where she 
seems to have grafted on her native stock, such exotick 
knowledge only, as could farther expand a mind, already 
adorned both by nature and art. 

Next day, Friday, 2d September, my worthy host and 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 335 

hostess, after exacting a promise from me, that I should make 
their house my family's home, until fully provided in one 
myself, should I choose that part of the country for my 
future place of residence, accompanied me on my way, 
fording Bayau Sarah, which is about thirty yards wide, to 
the plantation of Mr. Sweczey, a mile distant, where a child 
being dangerously ill of a fever, Mrs. Percy had for several 
days before, and even nights, aided the disconsolate mother 
in the duties of nursing, while her humane and friendly 
husband prescribed and dispensed the necessary medicine 
in the absence of the physician — none living nearer than 
six or eight miles. Indeed he adds the gratuitous practice 
of physician and apothecary to the office of chief magistrate, 
and he is equally useful in each department to the surround- 
ing country, while his amiable lady performs the part of a 
real Lady Bountiful, with judgement and true benevo- 

Capt. Percy rode with me about five miles farther, to shew 
me a tract of land he had in his disposal, on which he wished 
me to settle, and another, the property of Mr. Cochran of 
Bayau Pierre, which had [307] been offered for sale. He 
then badft me adieu, and I went on alone, passing Mr. 
Sterling's and doctor Bruin's, and proceeding to the south- 
ward four miles farther, I arrived and stopped at doctor 

The doctor was absent, but Mrs. Flowers did the honours 
of her house to me, with the most pleasing attention, and he 
returning home in the evening confirmed the kind welcome 
I had received, and to which I was in no other way entitled 
than, in addition to my being a stranger (which about 
Bayau Sarah seems to be a general passport to hospitality) 
I had a letter of introduction from my valuable and respected 
friend, judge Bruin, whose name, where he is known, opens 
every door. 


Early Western Travels 


The next two days were spent chiefly at doctor Flowers's, 
and in riding about the neighbouring country, during which 
I visited Mr. William Barrow, who has a very handsome 
house, a noble plantation of about four hundred acres of 
cotton all in one field, and a hundred and fifty negroes. I 
also accompanied the doctor to pay my compliments to 
Don Thomas Estevan, lately appointed conunandant of 
New Feliciana, with full powers to act for the govemour. 
He received me very politely, and appeared to be a man of 
pleasing manners, and good general information, although 
I was informed that he had risen from the rank of a private 
in the army, to his present situation. That, however, is a 
very common thing in the Spanish service, where merit 
is sure of being rewarded, without the aid of money or 
great connexions, notwithstanding the character for pride 
which that nation is taxed with."* 

On Monday, the 5th September, I proceeded on my 
tour, crossing Alexander's creek, an inconsiderable stream, 
and having a good road to the eastward, through a forest 
abounding with that beautiful and majestick evei^een, the 
magnolia or American laurel, six or seven miles to Mr. 
Perrie's. He was [308] absent until supper time, previous 
to which I amused myself with walking about his fine plan- 
tation, and the best garden I had yet seen in this country. 
A letter from doctor Flowers insured me a friendly reception, 
and I passed the night here. 

"•The prorince of West Florida wm settled during the British occupatioa 
(1764-83), and its population was of the same character as that of Mississippi, to 
the north of it — chiefl}' American colonists with an admizture of English, Irish, 
and Scotch emigianla. Feliciana was not erected into a Louisiana parish uutil 
iSii. but under the Spanish regime was made a district subordinate to the Batoa 
Rouge province. In iSio the inhabitants threw ofi the joke of Spain, and de- 
clared themselves annexed to Louisiana. 

William Bairow came to West Florida about 1795, eatered land under a Spanish 
grant, and developed a fine plantation. His descendants have been prominent 
citizens of the district. — Es, 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 337 

Mr. Perrie is a native of Fifeshire in Scotland, was a mill- 
wright, by which profession, aided by an advantageous 
matrimonial connexion, he now possesses a hundred negroes, 
and is alcalde of the quarter — yet he would gladly remove 
to the land of his nativity, if he could do it conveniently. 

Tuesday 6th, a good road through open woods brought 
me in six miles to Doyle's, from whence, fording Thomp- 
son's creek, (a fine little river sixty yards wide) I stopped at 
Horton's tavern, on the opposite side. Mr. Murdoch, the 
proprietor, from whom Horton rents the house and adjoining 
plantation, but who reserves a room for himself, having 
seen me at Mr. O'Connor's, politely asked me to stay 
breakfast, after which I proceeded. 

All the tract of country from Pinckneyville to near Thomp- 
son's creek, being watered by Bayau Sarah, or some of its 
tributary streams, is most generally known by the name of 
the Bayau Sarah settlements, and is part in the United 
States and part in the Spanish territory. It is esteemed as 
the finest soil, the best cultivated, and inhabited by the 
most wealthy settlers, of any part of the Mississippi territory 
or West Florida, but the land appeared to be liable to have 
its soil washed away, so as to lose it entirely In a few years 
after clearing it, on all the declivities. It is on the whole 
however, a charming country. 

My road now led through a thick wood, much impeded 
by copse and briers, and it being a dead flat, the whole 
of it was a complete slough, in some places deep enough to 
mire my horse to the saddle skirts for several hundred yards 
together, so that I made slow progress, for the first six miles, 
in an easterly [sog] direction, which had been the course of 
the road from doctor Flowers's. 

I met a man on foot, of a very suspicious appearance, 
labouring through the mire. He was a stout active fellow, 
very ragged, and his face disfigured by a large scar across his 

338 Early H^estem Travels [Vol. 4 

mouth. I passed him however peaceably, and soon after 
leaving a Mr. Carter's plantation on the right, I entered 
the most beautiful plain I had seen in this country. It was a 
savanna or prairie, about six miles long, and from half a 
mile to a mile wide, skirted by woods, and a few plantations, 
and abounding with clumps of oak, ash, mulberry, poplar 
and other indigenous trees, afifording between them beau- 
tiful vistas of various character, while large herds of cattle 
and horses appeared here and there, to enliven the scene, 
which had additional interest from two men galloping after 
and noosing some wild horses. 

I stopped and dined at the house of Richard Dewal, esq. 
on the plain. Mr. Dewal is an Englishman, and alcalde 
of the quarter. He was absent, but Mrs. Dewal received 
me with jwliteness and hospitality. 

Leaving the plain, the road soon became as bad as possible, 
to be capable of being travelled. Three and a half miles 
of it brought me to Droghen's plantation in a wretched 
solitude, from whence I had five miles farther of equally bad 
road, vrithout an inhabitant to Fridges, a Scotchman. In 
the next three miles I passed three plantations, and then 
came to the bank of the Mississippi at Mrs. O'Brien's very 
pleasantly situated farm, from whence is a view down the 
river past Montesano to Baton Rouge. 

A mile farther, parallel to the river bank, brought me to 
Montesano. This has been lately laid out for a town by 
Mr. Wm. Herreis from London, who is the proprietor, but 
I do not think he will succeed in his plan, as the country 
around is not sufficiently inhabited to support a town, and 
besides it is too near [310] to Baton Rouge, the seat of govern- 
ment, of the westen^ivision of West Florida. There is some 
prospect of his succeeding better in a saw and grist mill he' 
is erecting, which is to be wrought by steam. It is on a 
large scale, and a vast deal of money has already been laid 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


out on it {I have been informed, upwards of thirty thousand 
dollars) yet it does not seem to be in great forwardness."' 

It is called only four miles from hence to Baton Rouge, 
but the badness of the road made me think it eight, perhaps 
six may be the true distance. I passed some small neglected 
French plantations on the left on the summit of a range of 
low hills, which extend from Montesano, while on the right 
I had a swamp, out of which the cypress has been cut, 
between me and the river, the road being very bad, through 
a natural savanna of coarse grass, intersected by deep 
ravines, and miry sloughs. 

Baton Rouge — Gumbo — An Irish-French*Spaniard — 
The govemour — Mrs. O'Brien's — Journey on return — 
An American camp — Extensive prospect — Tomlinson's. 

Arkiving at Baton Rouge, on enquiry I was informed that 
Madame Le Gendre's was the [311] most respectable 
auberge, I accordingly stopt there, and found a number 
of genteel men, Frenchmen, Spaniards, English and Ameri- 
cans, with about a dozen of whom I sat down to supper, 
quite a la Francaise. The table was well covered with 
different made dishes, and a variety of vegetables, among 
which the most conspicuous, was a large dish of gumbo, 
served by the hostess at the head, which seemed to be a 
standing dish, a-id much in repute, as almost every one was 
helped to it. It is made by boiling ocroc until it is tender, 
and seasoning itwitha little bit of fat bacon. It then becomes 

"' It may be observed here Ihal the steam power used by Mr. Herreis (as I am 
informed) is on the Englisb prindpte, which is said lo cost much more than the 
improved steam power by Oliver Evans, of Philadelphia which costs for a tUrty 
horse power about three thousand dollars. It is said thai a Mr. Cohoon, of the 
stalE of New York, has even simplified Mr. Evans's steam principle, so much that 
a thirty horse power will not cost more than twelve hundred dollars for its compJete 


E^arly Western Travels 


so ropy and slimy as to make it difficult with either knife, 
spoon or fork, to carry it to the mouth, without the plate 
cind mouth being connected by a long string, so that it is a 
most awkward dish to a stranger, who besides, seldom 
relishes it, but it is a standing dish among the French Creoles, 
as much as soup and bouilli is in France, or the oUa in 

A bed was prepared for me in the front gallery or piazza, 
where Madame Le Gendre assured me I should be less 
troubled with musquitoes than in the interior of the house, 
and that I should also find it more cool and agreeable. I 
mention this as a iraiX of French character, particularly 
the female, to make a virtue of necessity, and to turn even 
their inconveniences to advantage, for notwithstanding her 
assertion that it was solely pour I' accommodation de Mojis. 
I'Elranger, had there been any other place for a bed in her 
small house, one would not have been prepared for me in 
the gallery. The musquitoes were sufficiently ennuyants to 
make me rejoice at perceiving the first dawn of day, when I 
hurried on my clothes, and sallied out to view the seat of 
government of the western division of West Florida."' 

About half a dozen tolerably good frame (or wooden) 
houses scattered on an extensive plain surrounded on three 
sides by woods at a little distance, first [312] made their ap- 
pearance, while a dirty little town of 60 cabins crouded to- 
gether in a narrow street on the river bank, penned in be- 
tween the Mississippi and a low steep hill descending from 

"* The name Baton Rouge (Red Stick) is supposed to have been derived from 
a tall cypress tree, which, having been stripped by the lightning to its red wood, 
formed a prominent landmark. The town was &rsl settled by the French about 
1710, but remained an inconsiderable hamlet, even after the accession of eighty 
Acadians (about 1730). The British, while in control of West Florida, built a fort 
aod established a garrison here, wbich was surrendered by Colonel Dickson to the 
victorious Spanish under Galvez, in 1779. Baton Rouge was inrcirporated as 
an American town in 1817, and became the capital of Louisiana in 1850. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming* s Tour to the West 341 

the plain, filled up the fourth side. I walked through the 
village — it is a right French one — almost every other 
house being a petty shop for the sale of bread, tobacco, 
pumpkins and taffia (or bad rum) distilled at the sugar 
plantations a little lower down the river. It is matter 
of astonishment how so many shops of the same kind find 
customers. I observed two tolerably well assorted stores, 
one kept by a Frenchman, the other by Mr. Egan, an 
Irishman, to whom I carried an introductory letter from Mr. 
O'Connor, which ensured me a friendly and hospitable 

I breakfasted with him, and then went to view the fort 
on the plain above the north end of the town. It is a regular 
square with four small bastions at the angles. The ram- 
parts are composed of earth thrown up out of a small dry 
ditch or fosse which surrounds it, and are crowned by a 
stoccade of pickets. A few small guns mounted, point to 
the different approaches, and also command the river, but 
it is a work of very little strength, and not capable of much 
defence against a prepared enemy. 

I returned to my friend Egan's, who accompanied me to 
the house of Don Gilbert Leonard, the contador (or col- 
lector) to whom I had letters of introduction. The affecta- 
tion of importance which this gentleman attached to his 
offer of accompanying me to government house, as soon 
as his excellency the govemour should be visible, was matter 
of amusement to me, who had been accustomed to see less 
ceremony observed in introductions to men of infinitely 
greater importance. He excused himself from asking me 
to dine with him, as he said his family were aU indisposed, 
but any other time that I should be in Baton Rouge, he 
hoped to have that pleasure. He promised [313] to call 
on me about eleven o'clock at Mr. Egan's, as soon as he 
had made himself up for a visit to the govemour, and he 


Rarly Western Travels 

[\ol. 4 

be^ed leave to retire to dress, although the changing of a 
silk morning or dressing gown for a coat, was all that was 
necessary, he having evidently bestowed some time on his 
person just before our arrival. 

During the short time we remained at his house, Don 
Gilbert led the discourse to the politicks of the day, repro- 
bating in most warm terms, the folly of the Spaniards for 
endeavouring to emancipate themselves from the chains of 
Napoleon — ascribing it to their being instigated to it by 
the artifices of that enemy of mankind Britain, to which 
country he declared himself a sworn enemy. It is worthy 
of remark, that all this opinionated and ill informed self 
consequence, proceeded from a son of Irish parents, who 
had arisen to his present station in a Spanish provincial 
government, from an obscure situation in life, by a chain 
of fortuitous circumstances. As he had volunteered him- 
self to be my Ciceroni to the govemour, I awaited him at 
Mr. Egan's some time later than the appointed hour, which 
tardiness was of course to give the visit additional conse- 
quence. We at last proceeded together, and not finding the 
govemour at home, I told him, I would put him to no 
farther trouble, but would myself wait upon his excellency 
on his return from his promenade. — He made his bow, and 
I was again a free man. 

About one o'clock, I found the govemour, Don Carlos de 
Grandprfe at home. He gave me a polite reception, and 
while his written permission to remain six months in the 
country (a ceremony all strangers are obliged to go through, 
previous to making a permanent settlement) was preparing, 
he entered into a conversation on agricultural topicks, and 
appearedjto be a well informed, and well bred man. He 
avoided touching on politicks, but Don Gilbert's sentiments 
on [314] that subject are supposed to be his, he being a 
native of France, and of course naturally partial to his 


Cuming's Tour to the West 


country, whether ruled by a Capet, by a mob, or by a 

After a friendly and tmceremonious dinner with Mr. Egan, 
I left Baton Rouge on my return, not having any curiosity 
to explore any more of the country than I had hitherto seen, 
the cream of which I considered to be the Bayau Sarah set- 

Returning again through Montesano, I arrived at Mrs. 
O'Brien's a little before dark. It being too late to proceed 
any farther that night, I stopped and requested room for 
myself and horse until morning. My request was complied 
with according to the general custom of the country, but in 
such poHte terms, and it introduced me to so agreeable a 
society at supper, that I congratulated myself for not having 
had time to go farther. The family consisted of Mrs. 
O'Brien herself, and her daughters Mrs. Flood, wife of 
doctor Flood of New Orleans, Mrs. Saunders, and Miss 
O'Brien. Two gentlemen from Orleans joined us after 
supper, which was an additional motive for self-congratula- 
tion. As they were travelling my road. They as well as 
me were strangers to Mrs. O'B. 

It is impossible to travel in any part of this new country 
after dark, as the roads are only bridle paths, which are so 

"' Don Carlos de Gmndprf was a Frenchman, who held important positions 
in the Spanish service. In 1779. he aided Gaivez in hia capture ot British Florida, 
and was left by Ihe latter u command of the fort at Baton Rouge. In 17SS, he 
commanded the Natchez district, but made himself unpoputai to [he American 
inhabitants, whereupon he was superseded by Gayoso dc Lcmos. Upon the ialter's 
promodon to the governorship of Louisiana, Grandpr^ was again detailed for 
Natchez; but on account of the protests of the inhabitants, was removed in tavor ol 
Minor. When Louiaana was transferred to the United Stales, GrandprS was 
commandant at Baton Rouge. The American inhabitants of this district began a 
revolt, which Grandpr^ severely repressed. Upon the successful revolt of the si 
province in 1810, a son of the commandant was killed while defending the post of 
Baton Rouge. During the British advance against New Orleans, Grandprf sided 
with his former enemies, and boarded one of their woiships. His later history 
is unknown, — Ed, 


Rarly Westejm Travels 


darkened by the woods through which they lead, that the 
adventurous traveller must inevitably lose himself. 

On Thursday, 8th September, I proceeded with my two 
companions before the family were stirring, and we arrived 
at Mr. Duwal's on the Great Prairie, time enough to sit 
down with the family to breakfast. We afterwards stopped 
to bait at Mr. Carters, and then went on cross Thompson's 
creek to Mr. Perry's, where we found Messrs. Dimcan and 
Gamble, lawyers from New Orleans, at dinner. Chairs 
were placed for us of course, and after partaking of Mr. 
Perry's hospitable [315] meal, I went on to doctor Flowers's 
— separating from my companions, who had each different 
friends to visit in that part of the country. 

Next day, the 9th September, I went to Capt. Percy's 
to dinner, and spent the remainder of that day and ni^t 
there, and on the loth, after dining at Mr. O'Connor's I 
retraced my journey across the line into the Mississippi 
Territory, and passing through Pinckneyville, I entered 
Capt. Semple's plantation, and rode nearly two miles through 
it before I came to the house of the proprietor — passing 
in the way two different negro quarters, and the whole 
road resembling several I have known through the demesnes 
of the nobility in Europe, in its variety — through woods, 
lawns, pastures and cultivated fields, on the whole the most 
beautiful plantation to ride through of any I had hitherto 
seen in this western country. 

I had to regret the absence of my hospitable host and 
hostess, who were on a visit at Mrs. Trumbull's, Mrs. 
Semple's mother. I was however well taken care of — and 
proceeding next morning, I deviated a little from the road 
to visit the camp. As I approached it I met several negroes 
returning home from a market which is kept there evCTy 
Sunday morning, On my arrival I was much surprised 
with a village, differing from any I had ever before seen. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 345 

Twenty-four large huts faced a wide open space cleared 
for a parade, in front of which is held the market. In the 
rear of these, with a narrow street between, are ten very 
snug and well furnished cottages, appropriated for the 
officers, who reside in them, some with their families, and 
some en gargon. But the most remarkable circumstance is 
that the whole camp is constructed with cane (the large 
reed) in such a manner as to render every dwelling perfectly 
tight and wann. They are aU floored with plank, and the 
officers' quarters are glazed, and have each a little [316] 
garden ; and there runs through the whole an air of neatness, 
propriety, and cleanliness, that I have seldom seen surpassed. 
The situation is on the slope of a very high hill, and the 
whole country for some miles round, particularly towards 
the Mississippi, is nothing but a continuation of steep and 
broken hills, covered with forest timber, and an impene- 
trable cane brake, except in a few places, where some ad- 
venturous settler has found a small spot, not too steep for 
the plough, or where narrow paths of communication have 
been cut through the canes. 

Having gratified my curiosity with a view of this little 
encampment, I went on to Wilkinsonbu:^, and spent the 
rest of the day with my friend H . 

On Monday, the 12th September, proceeding at early 
dawn, I took a wrong trace about five miles from Fort 
Adams, by which I was taken two or three miles out of my 
road, but coming to a plantation, I had some compensation 
made me for my egaremenl, by receiving directions for 
another road to Buffaloe creek, by which I cut off five 
miles, with the additional satisfaction of having only eight 
miles without a house, instead of twelve by the main road. 
I had hills on my right hand, covered with the usual variety 
of forest trees, and a thick cane brake underneath, while on 
my left, a gloomy and malignant swamp extended to the 

346 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

Mississippi, some miles distant. I breakfasted at Smith's 
who keeps a tavem, and a ferry over Buffaloe creek, three 
miles below the toll bridge on the other road. I had three 
short miles of a bad and miry road to Ellis's plantation, and 
four from thence along a ridge to major Davis's, where I 
again came into the main road. A mile farther brought 
me to Big Jude's, a free negro woman, settled on one side 
of a broken plain, which seems to have been a plantation 
at some distant period back, but by the washing away of 
the soil, it now only affords nourishment to a short herbage, 
[317] seemingly very proper for sheep. From hence is a 
very extensive view over the surrounding forests — in which 
far to the westward may be seen a line formed by the Mis- 
sissippi, making a great curve that way. Ellis's heights 
and the chain of hills running from thence to the eastward 
of Natchez termmate the view to the northward, while 
Loftus's heights do the same to the southward. Extensive 
prospects occur so rarely in this country of forests, that when 
a traveller happens to meet with one, he feels wonderfully 
cheered, although he sees nothing but a horizon of woods, 
which, particularly when without their leaf, in the winter 
season, have a very sombre and gloomy appearance, a little 
inequality of horizon where a hill happens to bound the 
view, bemg the only variety; but after emergmg from the 
thick forests and cane brakes, in which he has been long 
buried, he feels an expansion of the whole system which 
is extremely pleasing. 

The road is hilly but good, through a pleasant wood, 
chiefly of that superb tree the magnolia or American laurel, 
clear of underwood and cane, and passing several small 
plantations four or five miles from Jude's to the Homochito. 

Being ferried across that charmmg little river, I had a 
good road through a pleasant country tolerably well settled 
five miles to Mr. Tomlinson's. I had a letter to him from 

Cuming's Tour to the West 


my friend H , which was no sooner delivered, than both 

he and Mrs. T. vied with each other in their friendly atten- 
tions to me. They insisted on my not going farther that 
night, and manifested the greatest friendship for the writer 
of my introductory letter, by the warmth and kindness of 
their hospitality to me. 

Return to the northward through Natchez, Greenville and 
Port Gibson — Bayau Pierre — General remarks on cli- 
mate, soil, water, face of the country, manners, produc- 
tions, &c. 

On Tuesday, 13th September, I set out early, after re- 
turning thanks to my kind host and hostess. At two miles 
I passed Mrs. Hutchinson's on the right; one mUe farther, 
Mr. Abner Green's on the left; three quarters of a mile 
beyond which, I left Mr. Potndexter's, member of congress 
from this territory, on the right. 

I stopped for a few minutes at Mr. Dunbar's — some- 
times known and addressed by the title of Sir William 
Dunbar, I know not on what foundation. He is a native 
of Scotland — is a gentleman of literature and philosophi- 
cal research — is esteemed rich — and occupies one of the 
most tasty and best furnished cottages I have seen in the 

Passing three or four other large plantations in sight 
of the road, sis miles more brought me to St. Catharine's 
creek, now an inconsiderable brook, but in floods an im- 
passable torrent; crossing which I had two miles and a half 
to Col. William Scott's, where I stopped and dined with 
Mrs. Scott, the Col. being from home. 

After dinner, taking the road through Natchez, I went 
to Mr. Blennerhasset's, where I supped and slept. 

Wednesday, 14th, after breakfast, Mr. Blennerhasset 


Rarly Western Travels 


accompanied me to Natchez, where we made a few visits, 
in doing which we called on Mr. Evans, whose niece, Mrs. 
Wallace, a young and gay widow, and his eldest daughter, 
favoured us with a few tunes on an organ, built for him by 
one Hurdis, an En^sh musical instrument maker and 
teacher of musick, [319] then residing in Natchez. The 
instrument was tolerably good, and ought to be so, as it has 
cost one thousand dollars. 

I returned home with Mr. Blemierhasset, and next mom- 
mg very early, proceeded through Washington, Sulserstown 
and Uniontown to Greenville, and from thence by a toler- 
ably good road, in a northerly direction, twelve miles to 
Trimble's tavern, where I put up for the night. I was 
much impeded in my progress for the last two miles, by the 
effects of a hurricane, which had happened about a year 
before, and which had blown down by the roots, or broken 
off the tops of all the trees in its way — levelling every 
cabin and fence that opposed its passage, but like the gener- 
ality of the hurricanes (which happen frequently in this 
climate and always from the westward) not exceeding half 
a mile in breadth. Trimble's family had like to have been 
buried under the ruins of their cabin, not having had over 
a minute to escape to the outside, and throw themselves 
flat on the ground, when it was blown down. Those gusts 
are very tremendous, being always accompanied by thunder, 
lightning, and torrents of rain, but from running in such 
narrow veins, they are very partial, and therefore not so 
much dreaded as those general ones which sometimes 
devastate the West India islands. 

Next day I proceeded nine miles in a northerly direction 
to Port Gibson, on a western branch of the Bayau Pierre. 
This little town of twenty houses is the capital of Claiborne 
county, and is esteemed the most thriving place in the terri- 
tory, notwithstanding it is extremely unhealthy, from the 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 349 

proximity of some stagnant ponds, and the annual inun- 
dation of the Mississippi, which swells Bayau Pierre and 
causes it to stagnate for from four to six months, every 
year. The ponds might be drained, were the inhabitants 
not so entirely occupied by business and [320] pleasure, to 
which two pursuits they devote the whole of their time. 

It is thirty miles from Port Gibson to the Mississippi, 
following the windings of the Bayau Pierre, through a very 
hilly and broken country, but it is only fourteen miles by the 
road. As when the waters are up the bayau is navigable 
for large craft, that season is the most bustling time in Port 
Gibson, the storekeepers then importing goods and export- 
ing cotton. On the subsiding of the waters, the sickly 
season commences, and lasts with little variation from 
July to October, inclusive. This is more or less the case 
over the whole territory, particularly on the banks of the 
Mississippi, and in the neighbourhood of swamps and 
stagnant ponds. The driest seasons are the most unhealthy. 
The prevailing malady is a fever of the intermittent species, 
sometimes accompanied by ague, and sometimes not. It is 
rarely fatal in itself, but its consequences are dreadful, as 
it frequentiy lasts five or six months in defiance of medicine, 
and leaves the patient in so relaxed and debilitated a state, 
that he never after regains the strength he had lost. It also 
frequently terminates in jaundice or dropsy, which some- 
times prove fatal. 

All newcomers are subject to what is called a seasoning, 
after which, though they may be annually attacked by this 
scourge of the climate, it rarely confines them longer than a 
few days. Every house in Port Gibson is either a store, a 
tavern, or the workshop of a mechanick. There is a very 
mean gaol, and an equally bad court-house, though both are 
much in use, particularly the latter, as, like the United States 
in general, the people are fond of litigation. Gambling is car- 

ried to the greatest excess, particularly horse racing, cards 
and betting — a wager always deciding every difference of 
opinion. On the whole, Port Gibson and its neighbour- 
hood is [321] perhaps the most dissolute as well as the most 
thriving part of the territory. 

I dined at my friend doctor Cumming's,"* who lives on 
his fine plantation near the town, and taking a S. W. road of 
thirteen railes, I arrived in the evening at Bniinsburg. 

I shall here conclude my tour, with a few general observa- 

The climate of this territory is very unequal, between 
excess of heat during the principal part of the year, when 
the inhabitants are devoured by musquitoes, gnats and sand- 
flies, to excess of cold, in the winter nights and mornings, 
when a good fire, and plenty of warm woollen clothing are 
indispensibly necessary, though the middle of the day is 
frequently warm enough for muslin and nankeen dresses to 

The soil is as various as the climate. The river bottoms 
generally, and some of the cane brake hills, not being ex- 
ceeded for richness in the world, while some ridges and 
tracts of country after being cleared and cultivated for a 
few years, are so exhausted, as to become almost barren. 

Water is very partially distributed — it being scarce, 

"' Dr. John Cummins was bom in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in 
1780. Having studied medidne with Dr. Rush of Philadelphia, he emigrated to 
Mississippi Territory to engage in the practice of bis profession, settling &rat at 
Port Gibson; later having married a daughter of Judge Bniio (1804) he removed 
to the plantation on Bayou PieriE. where Cumiog visited him. He endorsed 
heavily for Burr and Blcnnerhasselt, losing by them about $65,000. Burr's maps 
left in his care are important evidence of ihe destination of his expedition. Dr. 
Cummins was called to Richmond in order to testify at the Burr trial, and after- 
wards attempted to recover some of Ihe money he had bst. but with no succras. 
Removing to the parish of Concordia, Louisiana, he Lived the Ufe of a wealthy 
cultivated planter — being espedally interested in literature — until bis death 
in i8ji. The details of his history have been kindly furnished by his granddattghter, 
Mrs. T. C. Wordin, of Bridgeport, Connecticut.— Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


unpleasant, and unwholesome, within seven or eight miles 
of the Mississippi — and it being fine and in abundance 
from that to the eastward to the pine woods, which generally 
begin at from fifteen to twenty miles distance from the 

The face of the country is also much diversified — a dead 
swampy but very rich level borders the Mississippi the 
whole length of the territory and West Florida, from the 
Walnut hills to Baton Rouge, with the exception of some 
ends of ridges, or bluffs as they are called, at the Walnut 
hills, the Grand and Petit gulphs — Natchez and Baton 
Rouge. The flat or bottom is in general about two miles 
broad, though in some places nine or ten. The different 
water courses, [322] which run mostly into the Mississippi 
from the eastward have each their bottom lands of various 
breadths, but all comparatively much narrower than those 
of the Mississippi. The intervals are composed of chains 
of steep, high and broken hills, some cultivated, some cov- 
ered with a thick cane brake, and forest trees of various 
descriptions, and others with beautiful open woods devoid 
of underwood. Some are evergreen with laurel and holly, 
and some, where the oak, walnut and poplar are the most 
predominant; being wholly brown in the winter, at which 
season others again are mixed, and at the fall of the leaf 
display a variety of colouring, green, brown, yellow and red. 

On approaching the pine woods, the fertility of the soil 
ceases, but the climate becomes much more salubrious — 
that will however never draw inhabitants to it while a foot 
of cane brake land or river bottom remains to be settled. 

The pine woods form a barrier between the Choctaw 
nation and the inhabitants of the Mississippi territory, 
which however does not prevent the Indians from bringing 
their squaws every fall and winter to aid in gathering in the 
cotton crop, for which they are paid in blankets, stroud, (a 

352 Early Western Travels [Vd. 4 

blue cloth used by them for clothing) handkerchiefs, and 
worsted binding of various colours, besides other articles of 
manufactured goods, which are charged to them at roost 
exorbitant prices. 

The cotton crop requiring constant attention, and children 
being useful in gathering it, the bulk of the inhabitants 
cannot afford to spare the labour of their children, so that 
education is almost totally neglected, and perhaps there are 
few people, a degree above the savage, more completely 
destitute of literary acquirements. But as they grow up, 
they can find time for attendance at courts of law, horse 
races, and festive, or rather bacchanalian meetings at tav- 
erns, where bad whiskey is drank to the greatest excess. 
Notwithstanding [323] this proneness to dissipation, to the 
neglect of manners, morals and property, there is a sem- 
blance of rehgion, so that any noisy sectarian preacher may 
always be sure of having a congregation, if his time of 
preaching is known a day beforehand. 

With respect to the productions of the territory, cotton is 
the staple, and since the disappearance of specie it serves 
in lieu of money. The river bottom lands generally yield 
from eighteen hundred to two thousand pounds to the acre, 
the uplands about a thousand. Maize or Indian com is 
produced on new land in the ratio of seventy or eighty 
bushels per acre, well attended. Horses, homed cattle, 
hogs and poultry might be raised in any quantity, yet cotton 
so entirely engrosses the planters, that they are obliged to 
Kentucky for their principal supply of horses and pork and 

Wheat would grow well, but it is not attended to, so that 
all the wheat flour used, comes down the Mississippi. The 
middle states supply a quantity of salted beef, and the 
southern ones rice, which might also be raised abundantly. 

When not destroyed by a frost in April, there are abun- 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


dance of early apples and peaches; but the climate is too 
cold in winter for the orange or lemon to the northward of 
La Fourche, on the Mississippi, below Baton Rouge. 

The woods abound with bear and deer, which are some- 
times killed and sold by the Indian and white hunters. 
Wild turkeys on the hills, and water fowl of every descrip- 
tion in the swamps are abundant, besides smaller game 
both four footed and feathered of various descriptions. 
But the chase, either with dogs or the gun is so laborious 
an occupation, from the difficulty of getting through the 
cane brakes and underwood, that one seldom meets with 
game at the tables of the planters. 

[324] The Mississippi, the smaller water courses, the 
lakes and ponds abound with cat fish of a superiour quaUty, 
and a variety of much more delicate and finer fish, yet one 
seldom meets with them, any more than with game. 

In short, the tables of all classes of people have as little 
variety to boast of as those of any other civihzed people in 
the worid. Coffee, although double the price that it is 
bought for at New Orleans, is by custom become an article 
of the first necessity, which the wife of the poorest planter 
cannot do without, and it is of course the most common 
breakfast. Milk is used to excess, which I have reason to 
think is an additional cause of the prevalence of bilious 

Proper care and conduct, might in some degree correct 
or guard against the effects of the climate, and prudence 
and a well regulated economy, might procure to the inhabi- 
tants of the Mississippi territory, almost every comfort, 
convenience and delicacy, enjoyed in the most favoured 
countries upon earth. 



Rarly Western Travels 

[\'ol. 4 

L nver, 

[325] In order to complete the description of tfie Mississippi, -we 
subjoin the following, being Extracts of Notes of a voyage 
from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, thence by sea to Phila- 
delphia, in the year 1799, nuitk by a gentleman of accurate 
observation, a passenger in a New Orleans boat, who has 
been polite enough to grant us his manuscript for this pur- 
Mr. Cuming having slopped at the Bayau Pierre, we com- 
mence this narrative a little above that river, in order 
to shew the state of the settlements of the country at that 

February 9. This evening we made a good landing on 
the Spanish shore, with the river even with the top of the 
bank. When we had got our boat tied to a tree, I took a 
walk on the shore, and found it covered with herbs, briers, 
blackberries and oak trees, all in leaf. I measured the leaf 
of a sycamore tree and it was twenty inches over. The 
evening was calm and clear, but the air rather cool, the new 
moon looked beautiful. 

Feb. 10. We proceeded early and got ten miles before 
sunrise. At half past one o'clock we came to a part of the 
river where some little time before there had been a hurri- 
cane; it overspread an extent of about half a mile in breadth, 
and crossed the river in two places about one league apart. 
The tops of the trees had been twisted off, others torn up by 
the roots and hurled into the river, some lying with their 
roots above the bank, and their tops in the river. The 
route it had taken was clearly perceptible, and how far it 
extended on each hand. Its appearance was like the wreck, 
of creation, or the subsiding of some general deluge. Over 
this whole extent there was not the least vestige of a tree 
left, the deserted stumps excepted. At four o'clock, after 
taking a circuitous [326] route in a very long bend of the 
river, the vestiges of this hurricane again appeared- It had 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 355 

taken a north east course, spreading destruction in its train; 
even the elastick cane brakes were torn up and extirpated, 

Feb. II. At half past seven arrived at the mouth of the 
Yazoo river. It has a beautiful appearance, rising in the 
mountains of Georgia, and taking a south west course, empties 
itself here. Our expectations were now raised on seeing 
once more the dwellings of men, having floated six hundred 
miles through savage nations, without seeing a dwelling of 
civilized people, and were not a little pleased with discover- 
ing over the tops of the trees at a remote distance the Walnut 
hills, upon which is a garrison and some dwellings of United 
States' citizens. When opposite the garrison the flag was 
hoisted as a token for us to bring too, which we obeyed. 
Mr. M — 's boat was a mile ahead, but was labouring hard 
to make the shore, knowing the necessity of coming too, 
he landed, but was obliged to let loose again, and left us 
to offer an apology to the commandant. All along the 
bank we saw numbers of Indians of the Choctaw nation, 
men, women, and children, decorated with beads, broaches, 
deer tails, buffaloe horns, &c. We had no sooner landed 
than the whole garrison was in an uproar, making prepara- 
tions to fire upon Mr. M— 's boat. 

The sergeant came down to inform us of the intention of 
the garrison. Mr. E — , the owner of the boat in which I 
was, replied that that boat was his property, and the garri- 
son saw the endeavours of the men to land, but without 
effect, that he was ready to give the necessary information 
respecting her and cargo, and if any damage was done, he 
knew where to apply for redress; this spirited reply quieted 
the mind of the sergeant, and the storm of the garrison sub- 
sided. We tarried here a few hours, sold some [327] apples, 
cider, &c. and then dropped down about four miles where 
we landed. 

Feb. 12. Two hours before sunrise we resumed our voy- 

356 Early Western Travels [VoL 4 

age, overtook two other boats for Natchez, met a lai^ keel 
boat rowing up with twenty oars working, and the men were 
singing and shouting at a wonderful rate, I suppose the 
effect of their morning dram, being informed each man gets 
three every day. 

At 12, we took our canoe and got a quantity of neat Bam- 
boo canes, which we spent the day in trimming. At 5, 
after passing the mouth of Bayau Pierre, we entered the 
Grand Gulph, a place formed by a large bluS or high land 
on the east shore, and a short point of land on the opposite 
side. The river here is very much contracted, on each 
hand there are prodigious whirlpools, between which the 
current runs. 

Feb. 13. The country is now a little more agreeable, 
being partly settled, nor are we in danger from sawyers, they 
being chiefly swept away by the large rafts of timber taken 
down every season to Natchez and Orleans, for the purpose 
of building, &c. The banks of the river are now lined with 
that beautiful species of cane called fan pemato, or lettania, 
the stem is of an oval form, and when twisted, makes a 
handsome walking stick (some of which we got), its top is 
formed like a fan, and is used for that purpose by some, 
when dried and bound. Peach trees in blossom were scat- 
tered along the banks. Half past 5, we came in sight of 
Natchez, a town situated on a high hill, about a quarter of 
a mile from the river. This is in the territory of the United 
States; here is a garrison, the country round is rich and 
fertUe, thickly inhabited, the climate favourable for pro- 
ducing Indian com, figs, indigo, cotton, &c. 

Feb. 14. I walked up into town after breakfast, found 
it contained about one hundred houses, and [328] beautifully 
situated, the inhabitants however are much inconmioded 
for the want of water in the summer; staple commodity 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to th West 357 

cotton, which when separated from the seed and packed 
in bags, fetches twenty dollars per 100 lbs. There are fig 
trees in every garden, the ground covered with perpetual 
green, except when burnt up in the summer by the heat of 
the sun. There is a beautiful Roman chapel, and a formid- 
able garrison about a quarter of a mile below the town. 
The hills were every where covered with wild pepper grass, 
which furnishes the town with excellent sallad. Within 
a few miles I am told improved plantations may be pur- 
chased at from two to ten dollars per acre, and unimproved 
lands at 50 cents. The head quarters being removed from 
Natchez to Loftus's heights, fifty miles lower down the 
river, we concluded to loose our hold and drop down to 
that place, which we reached about two o'clock next day, 
but were not able to make a landing until two miles below 
the garrison. We collected our papers, and with difficulty 
from the badness of the route up the bank, we reached head 
quarters, and inquired of the centinel for the general (Wil- 
kinson.) After waiting a few minutes the general came out 
of his tent; recognizing us, and after a few compliments, he 
insisted on our walking in and dining with him, which we 
accepted. We found him surrounded by his officers, after 
introducing us to them, he ordered each of us a chair, one 
on his right hand and the other on his felt, he made some 
inquiry about our Pittsburgh friends, conversed on politicks, 
theology, &c. and observed that the soldiers were full of 
money, having just been paid off, and if we had been so 
fortunate as to have landed at the camp, we might have 
made great sales. After taking a few glasses of wine I 
requested to speak to the general in private. Having in- 
formed him of my business, and shewed him my docu- 
ments, &c. I requested him to oblige me with a [329] letter 
of introduction to the govemour at New Orleans, which he 

358 Early Western Travels {Vol. 4 

promised he would have ready the next morning. On 
taking leave of the general for the evening, he ordered a 
periogue to convey us down to our boat where we arrived in 

Feb. 16. The gaieral's barge came down for some apples, 
dder, and onions, in it we returned to the camp and dined 
with doctor C — , and went with him to the general's, who 
received us politely, and who furnished me with a letter to 
the Orleans govemour as he had promised, together with 
the papers I left in his hands. I took my leave and returned- 
to the boat. 

Feb. 17. Having the general's periogue still vrith us, 
Mr. E. and four others rowed her up to the camp, and got 
his business settled vrith the captain. This and yesterday 
had been wet and disagreeable. 

Feb. 18. At 4, A. M. we left Loftus' heights camp, 
with an encrease of two passengers for New Orleans. Half 
past nine, we passed the mouth of Red river, which comes in 
from the Spanish shore, and which is almost full of aUiga- 
tors. We floated during the night about sixty miles, and on 

Feb. ig. We entered the settied parts of the banks of 
the Mississippi. At 7, we met two large periogues from 
New Orleans. The men called to us in French, and asked 
where we were from, we answered from Pittsburgh. The 
country here is generally low and flat, and all along tbe 
banks are beautiful plantations. The river is here and for 
one hundred and fifty miles above New Orleans, kept within 
its bounds by artificial banks raised sufficiently high for this 
purpose, called the levee, a step very necessary, as the coun- 
try on either side is lower than the surface of the river. 
These banks were raised at an enormous expense by order 
of the Spanish government. At 2, we crossed the mouth of 
Bayau Sara river, two miles from which resides a Mr. [330] 
Bradford [since dead] greatly celebrated in the late western 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


insurrection, in Pennsylvania.*" A little above this river, 
on the opposite shore, is a Roman church, at a settlement 
known by the name of Point Coupfee, which signifies a 
point cut off."" At half past three we proceeded with 
difficulty, owing to high winds, and getting a little alarmed 
we made shore. Half past six, P. M. we came to the head 
of two islands both of which stood athwart our way; they 
are the more remarkable being the last in the Mississippi, 
except below New Orleans. Between these islands the 
navigation is dangerous, but a safe and good passage for 
boats or vessels of any burden may be had on either side. 
During the night we floated a considerable way, but were 
driven by the wind to the eastern shore. Our canoe getting 
entangled in the limbs of a tree, we lost it. 

Feb. 20. At 5, A. M. we got imperceptibly into an eddy, 
and were detained in it about an hour. We were now 
much amused with the many beautiful plantations which 
covered the banks on both sides of the river. On the east 
side is a handsome Roman chapel caUed Manshack, about 
thirty leagues above Orleans."' At 10, the wind rose and 

"* David Bradford was a native of Maryland, who removed to Washingtoit 
County, Pennsylvania, in i;6i, and two years later was made deputy attorney- 
general for the county. His speeches greatly inflamed the mob clement in the 
Whiskey Rebellion, and be was cotisidered the head of the movement; hence, when 
amnesty was proclaimed for those who laid down arms, Bradford was omitted 
therefrom. He succeeded in escaping, first to Kentucky, where public sentiment 
shielded him, then to Bayou Sara, where he obtained a large land grant from the 
Spaniards. — Ed. 

^° Point Coupee is the oldest settlement on the lower Mississippi, having been 
made by some wandering Canadian trappers as early as 1708. BienviQe estab- 
lished this place as a military post, before the commencement of New Orleans. — ED' 

™ The importance of Manchac began with the English occupation of West 
Florida, when a fort was built at this point (Fort Bute) to control the pass of the 
Manchac (or Iberville) River. It was the centre of an illicit trade up the river, so 
that the expression "by way of Little Manchac" became proverbial with the 
people of New Orleans to express any form of smuggling. Willing took possession 
of Fort Bute for the Americans in 1778, and it was later garrisoned by the Spanish. 
Jackson closed the route through the Manchac River in 1S14, to prevent Britisb 
occupation and it has never since been reopened. — Ed. 


Early fVtstem Travels 

[Vol. 4 

blew violently, the river much agitated, our boat rocked, 
and it was with difficulty we could retain our footing, we 
rowed hard to make the lee shore, which we accomplished 
at half past ten, opposite a small but neat house on the 
western bank, which was occupied by a French family, 
chiefly of females. They came to our boat, purchased some 
apples, and we made out to understand them. I took a 
walk upon the bank, found the garden full of herbs in flower; 
by invitation I went to the cottage, and in my way picked 
up a sprig of parsley, the family observing me smelling it, 
the mother of the children spoke to one of them, and she 
ran into the garden and fetched me a nosegay of various 
potherbs and flowers, which was a treat so early [331] in 
the season — add to this, in consequence of something said 
to her by the mother, the little female presented me with 
about a quarter of a yard of green riband, with which she 
tied the posy. I tarried about twenty minutes and returned 
to the boat. The wind having subsided, we pushed off. 
At 4, we got into a whirlpool, in which we were detained a 
considerable time; this eddy was two miles in circumference, 
and the quantity of drift wood in it was astonishing. After 
much difficulty we extricated ourselves and regained the 
current. As we had now a very quick point to turn, called 
Judas's point, we were forced to the opposite shore, and 
dashed against a heap of drift wood. Mr. E. jumped out 
on the logs, fixed his shoulder against the boat, and with 
the hardness of pushing and thrusting, the blood flew from 
his nose; by these efforts however we got her off, but no 
sooner were we out of this difficulty than we were drawn 
into a second eddy; after taking a round in it we got out 
into the current again, and proceeded. During these dis- 
asters, it rained, thundered, and lightened prodigiously. A 
few mOes lower down, we got into another eddy, and were 
actually floating round in it without having observed our 


Cuming* s Tour 'to the West 


awkward situation, until called to and informed of it by a 
person on shore, who advised us to land until the next 
morning, which we did. It thundered, lightened and rained 
all night, notwithstanding we slept comfortably. 

Feb. 21. We were again blown on shore, but the wind 
abating and shifting in our favour we proceeded. We 
saw for the first time oranges on the trees hanging in great 
plenty. The wind rose in the evening and dashed us against 
a tree, the storm continued and we were detained until 

Feb. 23. We walked through the fine orange groves, 
plucked some fruit, and pushed oS, and continued Boating 
through a country lined with small plantations, and beauti- 
ful houses screened from the [332] sun by orange trees, 
whose fruit we saw hanging every where in the greatest 
abundance. Having floated nearly all night we landed two 
leagues above New Orleans. 

Feb. 23. We thought it adviseable to tarry here until 
sunrise, on account of the probable difficulty of making a 
landing at the city. 

At 7, we pushed off. Here indeed the banks of the river 
have a beautiful appearance, elegant houses encompassed 
by orange groves, sugar plantations, fine gardens, shady 
avenues, and the river covered with multitudes of market 
boats rowing, some up and others down, all tend to 
enliven the views of the passenger, and form a scene truly 

At a quarter before ten we landed at the city, and after 
collecting and packing up my affairs, I went on shore with 
captain Payton, of the United States' army, who had accom- 
panied us from the camp at Loftus' heights. We went in 
search of lodgings, and after seeing the captain safe, he 
being sick, I walked to Madam Shaboo's, an Irish lady, 
who kept a boarding house, chiefly for English and Ameri- 
cans. She had about fourteen boarders at this time, Eng- 

362 Early Western Travels [VtJ. 4 

lish and American merchants, sea captains, &c. They 
were very poUte, viewed me obliquely, and no doubt consid- 
ered me an eccentrick character. After dinner I went in 
quest of Mr. Clark,'" to whom I was recommended for 
advice and assistance. He conducted me to Mr. Lanthois, 
who I found indisposed. Leaving him I went in quest of 
Mons. Gourhon, with whom I also had private business. 
Walking afterwards on the levee with Mr. Clark, I was a 
little surprised by a gentleman coming up behind me and 
catching hold of my hand — it was my old friend doctor 
Lacassigne. I had been wishing to see him, he being of a 
turn of mind somewhat philosophical, and could interpret 
for me, and instruct me in the French language, and having 
confidence in him, he [333] was a valuable friend and com- 
panion to me while at Orleans. From the long confine- 
ment to the boat, I found my hams, ancles, and knees so 
weak I was obliged to retire from our walk to my lodgings to 

At 4, 1 got my documents, with general Wilkinson's letter 
of introduction to the govemour, and afterpassing the guards, 
was introduced into the presence of his excellency."* After 
examining my papers, he asked me if I had a friend who 
could assist me in negociating my business; I replied I had, 

"• Daniel Clark was the richest and most promioent American in New OHeans. 
He came to America from his native Ireland to assist his relative. Colonel George 
Croghan, ia the conduct of Indian afiairs. serving aa a clerk to the latter. At the 
close of the Revolution, he removed to New Orleans and became a Spanish sub- 
ject; but was deeply involved in the plots and intrigues of the Amencans. Claik 
acted as Wilkinson's agent throughout, and served Bun on behalf of bis principal. 
Be WM chosen member of the brat legislative council of Louisiana Territory, bat 
out of ilijliy" for Claiborne, the governor, declined to serve. The first legisla- 
ture of Orleans Territory elected him congressional delegate, and he was in Wash- 
ington when Burr was arrested. Later, be tumed against Wilkinson because of 
the tatter's duplicity to all bis accomplices. Clark died fn New Orleans in 
1 81 J.— Ed. 

" The governor of Louisiana at this time was Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos; 
for a sketch, see Michauz's TraveU, vol. iii of this series, p. 81, u ~ 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 


then said he, you must apply to your friend, and if you find 
any difficulty, I will redress your grievances, I bowed, 
thanked him, and took my leave, feeling well pleased so 

Sunday, Feb. 24. After breakfast I went to Mr. E 's 

boat, who I found selling apples wholesale and retail, to a 
crowd of people on the shore. Not relishing this kind of 
throng of business on a Sunday, I soon retired to my lodg- 
ings. And here I must remark, that there is no distinction 
or difierence made by the inhabitants between a Sabbath 
and any other day in the week, only the stores are fuller of 
purchasers on the former, the stalls in the streets covered 
with merchandize, the mechanicks engaged at their work, 
women seen sewing, and at my lodgings, the female slaves 
were ironing linen in the publick room. After dinner, Dr. 
Lacassigne called on me and we took a walk around the 
skirts of the city. On our way to the upper fort we saw 
vast numbers of negro slaves, men, women, and children, 
assembled together on the levee, druming, fifing, and dancing, 
in large rings. Passing by the taverns or coffee houses, you 
may discover gentlemen playing at billiards, and as these 
tables are all exposed to publick view by reason of the large 
wide doors being left open, no one need be at the trouble of 
entering in to satisfy [334] his curiosity. We traversed 
roimdj the whole city, which afforded me much amusement. 

Feb. 25. In company with the doctor I went up the 
river half a mile to the house of Mr. Sarpe, which was 
situated in a handsome garden of considerable extent, in 
which were fig trees in abundance, pomegranates, and a 
large grove of orange trees. And what a little surprised 
me was to see three stages of the progression of vegetation 
on the same tree at the same time, that is, the blossom, the 
green fruit, and those yellow and fully ripe, which was the 
situation of the orange trees in Mr. Sarpe's garden. I had 


Early Western Travels 

\yo\. 4 

not been made acquainted with this fact before, and there- 
fore was obliged to shew my ignorance on the occasion. 
Dr. Lacassigne kept his residence here, and had his room 
detached from Mr. Sarpe's house, but in the same garden. 
It was surrounded with palisadoes of cypress and lined 
within by orange trees, whose fruit suspended on all hands. 
The door opened to the river, over the top of the room was 
an electrical conductor, the point of which was elevated 
three yards above, but divided at the ridge of the house, 
and ran down each side of the roof and sides of the wall into 
the ground. Owing to the extreme heat of the climate 
the air is more frequendy inpregnated with electrical fluid, 
the clouds more frequently charged and discharged, the 
explosions louder, and the preparations to ward off the effect 
produced by it more general than in colder dimates. The 
doctor's apartment was furnished with a table, two or three 
chairs, two beds, and a handsome library, composed of the 
Encyclopedia, the works of Voltaire, Rosseau, and a variety 
of other works, mathematical, astronomical, philosophical, 
French and English. Knowing that I walked with a stick, 
the doctor had prepared two, of the young orange tree, and 
presented them to me. 

[335] Feb. 26. Paid Mr. E — a visit and found him still 
busy in selling off his apples, &c. 

March i. Having a fifteen hundred gallon still consigned 
to me for sale by Mr. S— , of Pittsburgh, I walked into the 
country with the doctor to a Mr. Delongua's, a distiller of 
rum, to see if he would purchase it. 

Sunday, March 3, went in company with Mr. Buckley 
to the Roman church, found it elegantly ornamented, and 
upon the whole to exceed my most sanguine expectations."* 
The service was conducted in a manner as bespoke the con- 

"* The calbedral of New Orleans was buill by the Spanist 
older French parish church, which was burned ia 17SS. — Ed. 

1807-1809] Cuming' J Tour to the West 365 

ductors to be no novices. After baptising an infant in a 
closet near me, the sermon was introduced by singing, in 
which a number of boys and men were engaged, accom- 
panied by the soft sound of an organ, after which, one of the 
priests, (there being three) delivered in the Spanish language 
a discourse on the sanctification of the Sabbath. The ener- 
getick manner in which this was done, gave me reason to 
believe he felt the force of his own arguments, and the 
necessity of a reformation of the Sabbath day in New Orleans. 
The service was, as is usual among the Romans, performed 
in Latin. It concluded with singing, reading, &c. and I 
returned to my lodgings. 

At 3 o'clock, P. M. six or eight of the boarders with 
myself and the doctor took a walk about two miles from 
the city to view an Indian encampment of the Choctaw 
nation. We had a shade of full bearing orange trees, to the 
gate which we had to pass, near which marched a centinel 
to guard a fort a little below, detached from the palisadoes 
which surrounded the city. Outside of the gate we saw 
a large circular shade for drying and manufacturing bricks, 
under which were upwards of fifty Indians of both sexes, 
chiefly intoxicated, singing, drinking, rolling in the dirt, 
and upon the whole exhibiting a scene very disgustful. We 
soon came to another company of [336] ten men sitting in 
the middle of the road, all intoxicated, amongst them was 
' one standing, with a bottle of rum in his hand, whose con- 
tents he alternately administered to the rest, first by shaking 
the bottle and then pouring part of its contents into their 
mouths. We proceeded, and in our way out, we met num- 
bers of Indian women with large bundles of wood on their 
backs, first lied together and then held by a strap carried 
over their foreheads. Thus loaded, they proceed to the 
city, while their husbands, (if they may be allowed this 
appellation) are spending their time in indolence and intoxi- 

366 Early Western Travels [Vol. 4 

cation. We saw numbers of other women sitting on the 
ground making baskets, mats, and sifters for Indian com. 
The children were entirely naked. The chief part of the 
men and women that were engaged (for some of them were 
sober) were also naked, except a piece of cloth which the men 
wore for decency, and a remarkably short petticoat worn by 
the women; in every other respect they were entirely naked. 
They were thickly encamped in the fields, on the road, and 
in almost every direction, some in small cabins covered over 
with a shrub like a large fan, called latania, others seated 
on the ground and exposed to the heat of the sun. We 
walked about among them for an hour, and returned to the 
city, where we found upwards of one hundred negroes of 
both sexes assembled on the levee, fiddling, dancing, and 

Monday, March 4. Settled some private business, and 
some I could not get settled, for some men are not honest, 
and others disposed to equivocate, such I found Mons. G — n, 

who I should be glad to call by a better name than v n 

or r 1. With whom, however I found Mr. Daniel 

Clark, merchant, very useful to me in getting my business 
setded. I wrote to Mr. Peacock of Philadelphia by cap- 
tain Bradberry. 

[337] Thinking about homeward, I visited the brig 
Guyoso, in which I intended to sail to Philadelphia. Cap- 
tain Mason politely gave up his birth in the cabin to me, 
Mr. E — and four of his men were to go in the same brig, 
having sold out his cargo to Mr. M — . Mr. E — being a 
good provider, we engaged him to lay in stores for the cabin. 

Having two hours to spare, it may not be amiss to make 
a few remarks as to the situation of New Orleans: It is 
situated in 2ff 59' north latitude, 14° 53' longitude west from 
Philadelphia. The city is built in an oblong square, parallel 
with the river, which runs here nearly north and south. Its 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 367 

bed is remarkably deep, but owing to the astonishing quan- 
tity of water which it receives and conducts to the sea, this 
scooped cavity is filled and sometimes overflows its banks 
and inundates the country for miles, hence the city is low 
and flat, and the adjacent grounds damp, of which the fol- 
lowing circumstance is an evidence. In digging the graves 
for the dead, before they are dug^suflBciently deep, they are 
filled with water, and the coffins are generally held just 
below the surface until a quantity of sand and gravel is 
thrown on to sink them to the bottom. The city is sur- 
rounded by a deep ditch, and pallisadoed on its interior 
bank with picketed cypress. This barrier takes its route 
round those sides of the city exposed to the land, and joining 
the river above and below the town, and is guarded by three 
tolerably strong square forts. There are two gates leading 
to the interior of the country, guarded by mounts raised on 
each side, upon which, cannon are planted. There are 
also two other gates about one miles asunder, the one up, 
the other down the river, whose entrance is guarded by the 
most formidable cannon, with some of their mouths pointing 
to the river. Between these two gates are five row gallies, 
stationed opposite to the governour's house, which are 
always kept in order and manned [338] ready for action. 
The streets are laid out in a straight line from the river 
to the ditch and palisadoes, and cross each other in parallel 
lines. The principal part of the original plot of the city 
is built upon, particularly that next the river. There is a 
space of 50 yards between the river and the front row of 
houses, which has a beautiful appearance. The houses in 
general are not more than one story high, some two, and a 
few three stories; the rooms are lofty, and the doors very 
wide, to admit a free circulation of air, which in this warm 
climate is very necessary. 
The channel of the Mississippi, though very deep, and 

368 Early Western TraveU f^oL 4 

upwards of a mile wide, would not admit the astonishing 
body of water to which it serves as a conduit, had not nature 
and art combined to aid this element in its descent to the 
ocean: the first in having made a number of outlets, by 
which a considerable quantity of the overplus water is car- 
ried off into the swamps and low lands, thence in channels 
to the sea: the second in forming a number of mill races cut 
through the levee. On these races saw mills are erected for 
sawing plank, boards for building houses, and others for 
making sugar boxes, which are cut in proper lengths and 
exported to the Havannah, where they are bartered for 
excellent sugar. It is worthy of remark that the plantations 
along the banks of the Mississippi from Natchez to New 
Orleans and still lower down, were formerly appropriated 
to the culture of indigo and rice, but the demand for these 
articles, particularly the first, being on the decline, the atten- 
tion of the planters is now turned to that of sugar and cotton, 
both of which articles bid for making excellent shipments, 
and consequently remittances for dry goods and other arti- 
cles imported from Europe. 

The houses are in general neat, and some elegant. There 
is an elegant Roman church, with a nunnery, in [339] which 
the females are instructed and prepared, some for active 
life, others for the veil, which is not unfrequent here.*" I 
observed one day while standing in the street a httle distance 
from me, a priest walking with hasty steps on the levee 
carrying the host, and three or four other persons carrying 
candles in lanthoms; these were followed by a file of mus- 
keteers with bayonets fixed. I was a little struck with sur- 

"• The eonvenl of the Ursuline* b probably the oldest building now extant in 
the Missiuippi Valley. Il was firat occupied in 1734, and employed as a semiDar7 
for instructing young women. After the battle of New Orleans, tlie Ursulioe 
nuns cared for the sick and wounded, and received the public thanks of General 
Jackson. The convent was removed to the suburbs in 1S34; but the building is 
still used as the (Roman Catholic) archiepiscopal palace of New Orleans. — £d. 

1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 369 

prise at this parade, and more so on seeing the inhabitants 
kneeling down as it approached. While I was satisfying 
my curiosity in observing these people at a distance, the 
remark of a certain poet struck me with pecuhar force: 

Eye nilure'a walks, shoot foUy as il flies, 
And catch the manners, liviog as they rise. 

Monday, March 11. Having got my box and trunk 
examined at the custom house, and my mattress and blankets 
on board the brig Guyoso, I took my station in the cabin, 
where I slept as well as the musquitoes would permit. 

March 12. At 12, we set sail, receiving three cheers from 
a number of American merchants, supercargoes, and sea- 
men, assembled on the shore, to whom we replied in the same 
manner. Half past three o'clock, we passed the English 
turn, five leagues below New Orleans. Wind rather ahead. 
At 4, we passed an old fort [called St. Mary, on the 
right going down. At 7, dropped our anchor and went to 

March 13, As soon as day broke, we were pestered with 
astonishing swarms of musquitoes. At six, went on shore 
for wood, in getting which the mate got his foot cut very 
badly; wheat flour was applied to the wound, by direction 
of a prescription book the captain had, and the foot bound 
up. Set saU at eight, having been detained by the fog. At 
six, [340] came to an old Spanish garrison, called the Plaque- 
mines, here the flag was hoisted as a signal for us to bring 
too, which we obeyed. The captain and supercargo went 
on shore in a boat, and produced our passports. The cap- 
tain soon hallooed to us to drop the cage anchor. In this we 
discovered the ignorance of the Spaniards, for they informed 
the captain the water was but fifteen fathoms deep, and it 
proved upwards of thirty, which circumstance gave us a 
great deal of trouble. 

March 14. Detained by the fog till nine o'clock. Beat 


Early Western Travels 


down and tacked, the wind being ahead at one o'clock the 
river was still covered with a thick fog. The ocean on each 
hand visible from the main-yard, and on the right hand 
side we saw the South West pass, one of the outlets or mouths 
of the Mississippi to the gulph of Mexico. Ahead we saw 
the South and on the left the South East pass, there being 
three principal passes to the sea. At three o'clock we came 
to these mouths, and the fog mislead us into the South pass, 

and we did not discover our error until Mr. E and 

myself for amusement went up the shrouds upon the main- 
top and discovered ahead an island. As soon as this was 
proclaimed, the brig put about, and after stemming the 
current for an hour we got into the South East pass, which 
turns off gradually to the left, and appears to be well ex- 
hibited in Jefferson's chart, printed in London 12th May, 
1794. At s o'clock we ran on a shoal on the right hand 
side of the South East pass, from which we got off without 
damage at six o'clock, when we dropped anchor. 

March 15. At 7, went upon deck and found the morning 
very damp and raw, a thick mist covered the river, and ob- 
scured the land from our view. In a half an hour the fog 
blew over and we could clearly discover about two miles 
to the light house, at Balize, and a vessel riding at anchor a 
little above it. [341] At nine o'clock came to an anchor 
opposite the Balize. Here we took our long boat on board 
and prepared for sea. At one o'clock P. M. the pilot came 
on board, anchor weighed, we put about, and was under way 
in a few minutes. But we were soon enveloped in a thick 
fog, and obliged to return to our late station and drop anchor 

In the evening I was much pleased with the beauty of 
nature as exhibited by the setting sun reflecting its rays upon 
the clouds in the western hemisphere, which were beauti- 
fully tinged with a fiery red. The fog had cleared away. 


1807-1809] Cuming's Tour to the West 371 

and there being nothing to interrupt the prospect, it was 
delightful beyond description. 

March 16. At six A. M. the pilot came on board; at 
seven we despatched him again, and we now entered the 
gulph of Mexico, our course directly S. E. The brig rolled 
and we got sea-sick. Latitude 27 and 46. 

March 17. In the evening saw numbers of beautiful 
flying fish endeavouring to escape from the pursuit of their 
inveterate foe the dolphin. 

March 18. Strong N. W. breezes, lat. 25 55. The 
19th, 20th and 2ist, head winds, much rolling and tossing, 
sickness encreased. The 22d, fine weather, becalmed in 
the afternoon. At 7, more flying fish skimming the surface 
of the sea, indicating the approach of dolphins, to take 
which the captain, he being an adept in this business, made 
preparations, and caught one weighing 13 pounds, which 
was cleansed and set apart for to-morrow's dinner. 

March 23. Saw to the leeward five sail of British ships 
of war, one of which was the sloop Stark, 16 guns. After 
chasing another American ship, she came after us; we knew 
it was in vain to flee, therefore backed our sails till she came 
up. She spoke us, sent a boat on board, took our captain 
and supercargo, and the brig's papers. After examining 
them, [342] and keeping us two hours in suspense, we were 
suffered to depart. We were now in lat. 23. 32, six miles 
off the isle of Cuba. 

We steered N. W. by N. knowing this direction, aided by 
the gulph stream, would bring us to the Marter's reef on 
the Florida shore. At one, dined on' our dolphin, a delicious 
dish. At four, having passed the tropick of Cancer, saw a 
beautiful tropick bird, with a long divided tail, all over white, 
shaped like a pigeon, but longer. In the evening we tacked 
and steered east, the gulph stream still pushing us forward. 

March 24. A British privateer, from Province, with 

372 Early fVestern Travels [\'oi. 4 

twelve guns, paid us a visit, and after the usual compli- 
ments of boarding us, and scrutinizing our papers, &c. &c. 
and finding all the property on board belonging to American 
citizens, on this account we were permitted to depart in 
peace, otherwise we should have seen the isle of Providence 
without doubt. Another schooner appearing to the wind- 
ward, while the lieutenant was yet examining our papers, 
hastened him to his own ship, when he immediately gave 
chase to it. At 12, we came again in sight of isle of Cuba, 
about four leagues off. By the high lands and lofty moun- 
tains we knew it to be that part of the island called the bay 
of Hundor, or Honda. 

March 25. At 6, we saw to the windward a ship belong- 
ing to Savannah in Georgia, from Jamaica. She had been 
driven by the current and contrary winds to a remote part 
of the bay, and detained upwards of 30 days. Most of her 
hands were sick and in great distress. We this day experi- 
enced a terrible storm, which contmued the most of the 
night. There is something tremendously awful in the 
approach, and raging of a storm at sea, accompanied by 
dreadful peals of thunder, quickly following each other, 
and the quick flashes of lightning bursting in streams from 
the dark and heavy loaded clouds pouring [343] down rain 
in torrents. This was the case now, and we prepared for it. 
It was the most dreadful storm I ever experienced, and 1 
could not forbear singing a hymn, applicable to our situa- 
tion, namely, ' ' The God thai rules on high, and all the earth 
surveys," &c. 

March 26. Fine clear morning, with a smooth sea. A 
sight of the island of Cuba afforded us a pleasmg prospect, 
and its high and mountainous banks exhibited a most 
romantick scenery. 

At 3 o'clock, were agreeably entertained with a fine view 
of the city of Havannah, and the More castle. We were 

1807-1809I Cuming's Tour to the West 


warned of our approach to it by two hills called in the chart 
the Maiden's Paps, on account of their representing the 
two breasts of a woman. These two hills, though five 
leagues in shore, are plainly discoverable six leagues before 
you get opposite to them, and as they are due south of 
Havannah, we began to look out for the city, and with our 
glasses soon discovered its lofty towers and white buildings, 
of which there appeared to be a great number; the strong 
castle and battery which guard the city were also in view. 
From the Havannah we steered eastward, with a view to see 
another hill called the Pan of Matanzas, from which we 
were to steer north. 

March 27. From the top-mast saw several keys or islands 
to the south east. Saw a large shark playing and rolling 
along side, and a big turtle. 

March 28. Being out of the gulf stream, we were all day 
becalmed in lat. 23. 27, opposite the keys on the west end 
of the great Bahama bank. Saw swarms of fish, and birds 
trying to catch them as they came to the surface of the 
water. During our being becalmed, I heard murmurs of 
certain individuals as to the cause. One says this is too 
much — another, we have some devilment on board, &c. 
&c. The breeze springing up in the evening we again 
hoisted sail, [344] and during the night had hke to have run 
on some keys, but fortunately discovered them in time to 
tack about. 

March 29. Lat. 24. 21. The gulf stream carries us 
three knots an hour, but no wind. Saw a large shark along 
side, for which the captain threw out a bait of pork; as soon 
as the shark saw this he dived, and turned his white belly 
upwards, then gradually rising in this position to take the 
bait, which he missed, and in turning again the hook caught 
him by one of his fins, or broad pieces projecting from his 
side which assists him in swimming, and as the cord was 

374 Eariy Western Travels fV'oi. 4 

strong, the captain and three others drew against him, and 
after a few flounces, got him along side and drew him upon 
the quarter deck. After beating and thumping the deck 
like a fury with his head, tail, and fins, the captain laid him 
for dead by repeated strokes with the pole of an axe on the 
head. He had a small fish called a sucker adhering so 
closely to him that it could scarcely be separated. This 
small fish was shaped like a cat-fish, and under its head 
was a large round substance by which it adhered, or held 
itself to the shark. The shark being opened by the cook, 
its bowels taken out, and eighteen inches of its body next 
the tail (that being the most delicious part) cut out, and its 
tail cut off, it was then thrown overboard; and what sur- 
prised me most was that it instantly swam under the brig, 
and we perceived it, swimming off on the other side as far as 
our eyes could distinguish an object under water. 

March 30 and 31. Gentle breezes, sailed however about 
six knots an hour, being assisted by the gulf stream. I had 
now read over all my books, among which I found the most 
pleasure in the dehghtful pages of Baxter's Saint's Rest. 
My chief companion in the cabin was a Frenchman of the 
name of Branie. We reciprocated in improving each other 
in our several languages. I found this extremely [345] useful 
to me, for I was thereby enabled to count, and ask questions 
of business, and for almost any thing I wanted. At 12, lat. 
27. 22. 

April I. At 12, lat. 29. 43. Quantity of sea-weed — 
high sea — large shark skulking on the star-board side — 
numbers of herring hogs playing around us. At nine A. M. 
the clouds assiuned a threatening aspect, wind, rain, thunder 
and lightning unite and rush upon us with fury. The sea 
also seemed to enter into the combination against us. In 
alternate succession we were raised to the clouds, and the 
next moment apparently sunk to the bottom of the sea. In 

1807-1S09] Cuming's Tour to the West 375 

the cabin we were all struggling to keep ourselves from being 
dashed against each other. At half past ten the stomi 
ceased, and a bowl of grog sent upon deck to treat the sailors. 
Lat. 31. 6. The storm again commenced at one, and con- 
tinued until 12 o'clock at night. 

April 3. Head winds and cloudy, had no observation to 
day. The night produced such sudden gusts of wind, as 
nearly to throw the brig on her beam ends. 

April 4. In the afternoon saw two ships outward bound, 
steering S. E. High and contrary winds. Lat. 33. 10. 
Another dreadful storm was now preparing to attack us. 
At two in the morning was called upon deck by the captain 
to view appearances, which were indeed dreadful. The 
masts were now all naked, the sails being furled except a 
small part of the main sail. The sea swelled, roared, and 
by the friction of the vessel acting against the saline and 
fiery particles with which the sea is impregnated, it ap- 
peared to vomit forth or emit streams of fire, from the light 
of which, and that from the light charged circles with which 
the gloomy clouds were environed, we could perceive some- 
thing of our situation. The ragings of the storm continued 

Saturday morning, 7 o'clock, April 6. When we flat- 
tered ourselves with a calm, but in this we were [346] disap- 
pointed, for a hurricane, of which the last was but a pre- 
lude, was now preparing. At 8, the wind shifted from E. 
to N. One of the oldest seamen saw the approach of the 
storm and gave the alarm. All was on deck in a moment. 
It came roaring and foaming upon us most tremendously. 
A cotton bag of 317 lbs. which was suspended over the 
quarter rail by strong ropes, was blown up and lodged 
inside of the rail. The seas broke over us, and I must con- 
fess I expected nothing but a watery grave ere long, for 
which I bethought myself, composed my mind to prayer, 


Early Western Trawls 



recommending my family, and my fellows to the protection 
of heaven. In two hours however this dreadful scourge 
abated. Not having been able to take any observation, we 
supposed ourselves a few miles to the south of cape Hatterass, 
off the coast of Carolina. 

Sunday, April 7. A fine clear day, not a cloud discoveraWe, 
the sea calm and smooth. With the approbation of the 
captain I offered thanks to heaven for our late deUverance. 
Observation 35. 25. In the morning saw a brig to wind- 
ward making for shore. She appeared to have been labour- 
ing under the same if not more difficulties in the late storm 
than ourselves. 

Monday, April 8. The wind sprung up from the west 
and we shaped our course for Philadelphia. At 12, lat. 36. 
48. Seven or eight knots an hour. 

April 9. In expectation of making the light house at 
cape Henlopen by 4, A, M, we had the preceding evening 
made every preparation, the watch was fixed, the lead and 
line for sounding during the night. At 12, we got soundings 
in 25 fathoms water. Sounding was continued every hour 
and at 4, A. M. had 14 fathoms. At ii, a pilot boat boarded 
us. At 12, we were opposite the capes of Delaware, and the 
light house fair in view. A head wind blowing up, the pilot 
steered us over to cape May, and intended [347] to make 
cape island, but was prevented, therefore continued along 
the Jersey coast, and passed the two mile and five mile 
beach, and at four o'clock P. M. anchored in seven fathoms 
water about two miles from shore opposite seven mile beach. 
The evening was exceedingly cold, after having come imme- 
diately from so warm a climate; this was very disagreeable 
to us. We retired however to the cabin, amusing ourselves 
by recounting the difficulties of our voyage. 

Thursday, April 11. Dropped anchor at 3, P. M. 20 

1807-1809] Cuming* s Tour to the West 377 

miles within the bay of Delaware. Friday 12th, the wind 
failed and we dropped anchor again a little below Reedy 
island. At 10, A. M. tide being favourable we raised anchor 
and continued tacking, and at 6 o'clock dropped our anchor 
about fom: miles below New Castle. 


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